Britain’s homeless community are preparing for the switchover to the chip & pin card payment system this weekend, with some admitting that they are unhappy with the upgrade from the current spare change system.
The hi-tech system is intended to bring those living on the high street in line with High Street retailers, who switched to the system in 2005. From the weekend, homeless people and other beggars will have to use special portable card readers in order to obtain payment from passers-by and good Samaritans. The Association for Payment Clearing Service says that the chip & pin will deliver greater convenience and an overall better giving experience for the consumer.
George Gilbert, a 43-year old homeless man from Newport, says he welcomes the system; ‘It’s the future, isn’t it? What people forget about being homeless is that it’s all about moving with the times, or being moved on generally.’
However, not all homeless people are so excited about the change. Corky McDonagh, a 37 year old down-and-out, of no-fixed abode, feels the new system has been crowbarred upon vagrants without proper consultation: ‘They keep saying we’re hard to get hold of,’ he explains, ‘but I’m under that bridge most nights. The main reason I became a hobo in the first place was the absence of unnecessary paperwork, that and the chronic alcoholism.’
Fellow rough sleeper Big Mick Ellis agrees and says, ‘I’m not looking forward to the new system to be honest. I’m pretty much a one-man operation, so I’m not really geared up to deal with the extra admin this is going to bring. I‘ve considered bringing in another destitute person to deal with the back office stuff, but its so hard to find a person who‘s the right fit. It always seems to end in a drunken fistfight over who’s got the most blanket.’
McDonagh adds: ‘I’m thinking of giving up the whole begging lifestyle, it’s just becoming too bureaucratic. The difficulty is that if you are looking for a similar career – where you have the freedom to come and go as you please, and do as little as possible – then your options are very limited. Still, if I end up becoming a postman I‘ll just have to make the best of it’