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June 6, 2018

Why London set up contactless payments for street musicians

By Jonathan Andrews, Cities Today

Londoners no longer need spare change to pay street musicians, thanks to a new tap-to-pay option for contactless or wearable technology.

Busk in London, an initiative set up by the mayor of the UK capital, has partnered with Swedish fintech company iZettle to launch the world’s first contactless payments initiative for street musicians.

Rollout of the Repeat Payments feature – which allows performers to establish a fixed fee–has begun across the city’s 32 boroughs and will continue to expand over the coming months. iZettle now plans to make the feature available to more charity organisations, NGOs and small businesses.

“For London to maintain its status as a global capital of music, it’s vitally important that we support the stars of tomorrow,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. “Busking helps emerging artists to hone their talent and gives them the chance to perform in front of huge numbers of people. I’m delighted that iZettle has chosen London to launch this innovative scheme–allowing artists to accept donations by card payment, as well as cash.”

Charlotte Campbell, a full-time busker in London, has been trialling the system for two weeks with a Repeat Payment of £2 per tap. She said that street performers need to adapt to a cashless society, allowing passersby to tap on the go.

“It has already had a significant impact on the contributions I’ve received,” she said. “More people than ever tap to donate whilst I sing, and often, when one person does, another follows!”

The music industry also welcomed the launch in London. Shain Shapiro, CEO of Sound Diplomacy, a leader of the Music Cities movement and which consults with the mayor, told Cities Today that the scheme is cutting edge for London.

“For London to maintain its status as a global capital of music, it’s vitally important that we support the stars of tomorrow.” Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

“There isn’t another city on the planet that does this. One of the challenges street performers face in our cities is legitimacy; that not only are they there for a reason, but they are enlivening and improving our public realm. By providing the path of least resistance to the buyer and enabling people to tap payments, Busk in London is not only improving buskers’ revenue streams but also showing to the world how important this is to the capital.”

London has been a leading city in legalising busking. In 2003 it allowed buskers to perform in certain locations across the London Underground. After applying for a busking licence, performers can play on one of 39 pitches across 25 central London stations.

The original version of this article first appeared in Cities Today. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.

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Why London set up contactless payments for street musicians

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