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Charities and beggars are losing out in UK due to absence of QR codes

Since 2017 beggars in China have been carrying QR codes in their begging bowls to accept donations via Alibaba Group's Alipay or Tencent's WeChat Wallet, see:

Source & Copyright©2020 – TIMESNOWNOWS.COM

Initially, small businesses and local start-ups paid the beggars for every scan they got, so they could afford the mobile phone. The scans allow businesses to collect user data via e-wallet apps, and then the data was compiled and sold for marketing. Now, this is less of a problem as many have them.

Cash and charity support declining

Beggars in China, like everywhere else, place themselves near tourist places and subway stations. Recently there has been, not surprisingly, a fall in the number of beggars asking for cash.

The drop in cash usage is a global phenomenon, e.g. in 2018 cash payments as a share of all payments, according to, was: UK 42%, China 40% and Sweden 20%. Since the pandemic, the drop in cash usage has accelerated.

Also sadly, but not surprisingly in a pandemic, there has been a global decline in monies collected by charities which were often by cash, e.g. in the UK many charities are reporting a decline in monies collected in 2020 yet the demand for support has been growing. Indeed, many of the charities say the situation can only get worse in 2021.

Need for new payment channel to replace cash

The move away from cash is causing real problems for charities specializing in collecting cash in sponsored events such as street exhibitions, e.g. puppet shows or the Rotary Club’s Father Christmas sledge doing a tour of the town with collectors holding buckets to catch the cash, etc.

Contactless payments are not attractive at the moment because when you need to enter a specific amount on the keyboard which is a ‘petri disk’ of possible germs and viruses.

This is where the QR code payment channel comes into its own because there is:

  • No common keyboard, only the keyboard on the account holder’s own mobile phone
  • The donator can decide how much to pay later, not immediately
  • Donators do not feel at risk when making a donation.

In the Netherlands the iDEAL Payment system – which provides a direct online transfer from consumers’ bank account to the bank account of any business or charity

 -  includes the QR code payment channel, see:

Source & Copyright©2020 – iDEAL

Explosive growth in QR codes usage

In 2020 IDEAL had a 30% growth in transactions and in last December’s LockDown month the growth rate was 40%, an impressive growth rate. While at the same time the use of QR codes exploded: At the end of 2019, around 100,000 iDEAL payments per month were paid via a QR code AND by the end of 2020 the volume had increased to 450,000 payments via QR per month. Part of this explosive growth was using QR codes to collect donations via specialised collection boxes provided by the Dutch Payment Association, see below.

Dutch standard green collection box

Source & Copyright©2020 – Dutch Payment Association

Many charities - such as Dutch Kidney Foundation, Dutch Heart Foundation, Dutch KWF-fund against cancer, and the Red Cross – use these green collection boxes to maximise secure collections in the Netherlands.

Vital feature is missing in UK

An important feature of these iDEAL QR-codes is that they can be scanned directly with the mobile banking apps from most the Dutch banks, covering over 10 million Dutch bank customers. So Dutch consumers (and the charities) can be confident that they will be able to pay/collect via the QR codes. But in the UK banks do not have a general system, e.g. the PayIt QR code is only usable by Barclays customers.

What is needed in the UK is interoperability between the QR codes. The regulators (?) need to provide a QR code standard that Payments UK and the banks adopt as the Netherlands, Hungary and Singapore have done.


CTMfile take: The UK Payments ecosystem is letting the charities (and beggars) down. COVID-19 impact and habits are going to last for years. The QR codes solution is needed now, not in few years when the banks and their payment systems get round to it.

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