Homeless people are now wearing barcodes to promote cashless donations

Greater Change, backed by Oxford University, is also trying to help homeless people save on a long-term basis rather than using up the donations

                            Homeless people are now wearing barcodes to promote cashless donations
(Source:Getty Images)

A new charity scheme is being developed which may help homeless people get more donations from people. There is no doubt that our society is slowly becoming a cashless one and, these days, all transactions can be carried out with a few clicks on a phone. While this has made lives easier for many, there are people who are seeing the negative side of this. As cash become less and less revelant, those who are homeless and needy, and ask for cash on the streets have had to suffer.

Greater Change, backed by Oxford University Innovation and Oxford’s Said Business School, is trying to change that. The University team has created wearable barcodes for people who live on the streets so members of the public can give money using their smartphones.

These barcodes consist of a QR code similar to those issued for online ticketing and has helped solve the problem as many people nowadays tend to rely on cards and mobile phones for payments. Speaking to BBC, founder Alex McCallion said, "The solution we have come up with is a giving mechanism through your smartphone to a restricted fund." The initiative launched in late 2017 and currently being trialed in Oxford.

Another motive to develop this app was to help homeless people save on a long-term basis rather than using up the donations on a short-term basis. When one visits its website, the site explains that Greater Change is a "social enterprise that aims to help people that are homeless or at near-term risk of homelessness."

It further added that "Greater Change matches donations to an individual's specific savings goals. This allows people to move into secure accommodation and employment." Each homeless person is assigned a caseworker who co-manages their account in order to ensure that the money has been spent on targets that have been agreed upon. This may include rental deposit or a new passport. Benefactors can also know about the recipient’s circumstances through an online profile which they can see once they scan the barcode. 

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis also appreciated this invention. “It’s encouraging to see that people want to help rough sleepers, but the bigger picture here is that neither rough sleeping nor any form of homelessness should be an issue in Britain today," he said, as reported by Independent. Although those who wish to make the donation can do so by using any browser, it is easier with the dedicated Greater Change app. 

While many are appreciating this idea, there are others who are not too fond of it. “I think it’s a bit weird, to be honest, I’m not sure what difference it makes. It’s a bit like wearing a dog tag," one person said. Earlier this year, Russell Blackman, the managing director of The Big Issue revealed that cashless payments might be the way to go forward from now and this could also help increase the sales for vendors. It is vital that we develop the right contactless solution for our vendors, ensuring that they can get instant access to their funds, even if they don’t have their own bank account due to a lack of permanent address,” he said.