The Big Issue – the independent Australian magazine that supports the homeless and disadvantaged community – will launch digital payments from this Friday. It means customers can buy the street publication without cash.

Selected Big Issue vendors will have tap-and-go technology, or the phone app Beem It. Vendors can remain cash-only if they wish, but those who want to accept card payments can use one or both digital payment methods.

It’s hoped the move will grow sales for Big Issue vendors, who are suffering in today’s increasingly cashless economy.

Established in Australia in 1993, the social-enterprise magazine allows its vendors an opportunity to earn an income and build self-confidence through meaningful work. Each street vendor essentially runs their own microbusiness, buying copies of the magazine for $3.50 and selling them for $7. Vendors may be experiencing long-term unemployment, homelessness and mental health issues, and come from a range of situations and backgrounds.

In an official statement Rachel, a Pyrmont Big Issue vendor, said, “Digital payments will make the magazine more accessible to more people … The extra money will help me continue my university studies. And I’ll spend some on myself, which I’ve never done before.”

According to the Australian Tax Office 80 per cent of Australians prefer card over cash in face-to-face transactions. And Big Issue CEO Steven Persson is hopeful the new payment options will bring the magazine’s 550 vendors into the digital economy.

“We expect digital payments to have a positive impact on sales, ensuring vendors can continue to earn a life-changing income from selling the Big Issue magazine,” he said in a statement.

Buy a Big Issue using digital payment from Friday November 2.