Some say that technology levels the playing field for the poor; however, the push to a cashless society presents a new challenge for charities.

The shift to a cashless society has brought many conveniences to us. The change, however, is leaving some behind and it hits charities and the poor the hardest. Apple Pay, Visa payWave and Google Pay are some of the many technological-assisted payment systems for us to choose from. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the method of payment.

In the U.K., cash payments account for 42% of retail transactions according to the British Retail Consortium. 34% of Europeans surveyed said they rarely use cash. Sweden leads at the forefront with only 25% of the transactions paid in cash.

The cashless trend has presented new challenges for charities and has brought fears that it would marginalise the poor. The main challenge is the decrease in the number of donations as fewer people hold spare change. Barclayscard research in the U.K. has estimated that the lack of digital solutions could cost charities a loss of £80 million a year. 15% of the survey respondents, which amounts to 7,677,937 Brits, admitted to walking away from a donation opportunity because they were unable to use cards.

So why is there a rapid growth in contactless payment? The invention of smartphones is an impetus to the change. The ‘tap and go’ function gives convenience. There are also plenty of mobile phone apps that link our phone to our cards. This makes transactions quicker as our mobile phones are often in our hands. Some vendors said that they feel safer with lesser cash in store and cuts the process time as they do not need to count money.

Not to be hindered by the changing preferences of people, charities are revolutionising ways to open up more opportunities.

Contactless charity box

Charities have turned to contactless charity boxes to overcome the challenge- a donation is just a tap away. These terminals deduct fixed sums to simplify the process. It also gives donors security that the charity is official. By speeding up the process time of donating, it also reduces the likelihood of dismissing the opportunity to donate because of the time and effort needed to put in the process. It caters to our fast, less patient society.

“Tap Dogs”

For instance, Blue Cross, a charity that helps to re-home unwanted pets, has a creative way of reaching out to the community. They have “employed” the world’s first canine fundraiser. Their “Tap Dogs” wear a coat with a contactless payment system attached to the coat; they call for donors to “pat and tap”.

Amsterdam has also rolled out a trial using the same idea for homeless people. The coat not only allows donation but also warmth for them. The donations also could only be used on fixed options such as on a bath, shelter and food. You no longer have to worry about homeless people using your donated money for alcohol.

You will be glad to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Recent efforts of charities that use contactless payments have paid off and have received positive responses. Charities have seen the value of each donation increase. Children’s charity NSPCC said that with contactless donations, it increased their average donated value because people are less likely to give small coin denominations.

Many charities are currently making the effort to adapt to the preference for contactless payments. It will be good to see more high tech payment companies backing up charities. The partnership will help charities adapt to the change to a cashless society. After all, charities stand to lose millions if they fail to adapt. One thing is for sure: the cashless trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.