Tap to Give – how to make it a reality

charity roundtable

By Veronica Atkins

The UK is taking on contactless payment like no other country in Europe. Thanks to trailblazing initiatives such as TfL contactless ticketing in London and widespread educational and promotional initiatives from all leading retailers and food businesses across the country, contactless and even mobile is becoming more and more popular.

While this new cashless society is the dream of both regulatory bodies (accountability!) and the payment industry (more transactions!), one sector suffers under the new development: The charity sector. Less cash means that people prioritize what they use it for, like those parking meters that only take 1 pound coins. Walk-by charity giving is no longer a natural for the British high-street shopper.

Hence the need for acceleration. In the second event of the Contactless Britannia Roundtables series, Contactless Intelligence joined forces with The UK Cards Association to tackle the subject of contactless fundraising. In order to get some answers, we invited different charities – both large and small, with attended fundraising strategies and unattended donation boxes – to meet with the top players of the contactless tech and payment industry. The turn out was great, with over 20 persons from both sides creating an intimate but well represented 45 person discussion group.

Firstly the sheer scope of the charity market in terms of donations is impressive: In 2015 at our CI conference, Paul Weaver from Cancer Research UK shared figures that 9.6 billion GBP were given to charities according to CAF. And while across the country cash remains the most popular method of giving with 55% of donations, Cancer Research UK has seen a 6% reduction in cash in the last year and a 23% increase in card transactions. So that set the scene very well: The scope is huge, the market is changing, what can we do?
Other charities have more sobering statistics, mainly the irregular take-up of contactless throughout the country and the tedious and time consuming terminal set-up process.

The UK Cards Association presented its three Contactless Donation Models – Attended Portable / Unattended Outdoor / Unattended Indoor – and shared the results of their charity workgroup. In the course of the day, different topics and to dos came up for The UK Cards Association, such as a Heat Map for contactless card usage in the UK and the need for various consolidated Help Sheets that the charity sector could use for education about the use of contactless. A prime example came from Simon Mott, London’s most innovative Big Issue seller, who sourced his own mPOS device when his revenue decreased. Through his initiative and by educating his clientel on being able to use contactless, he brought in 85% new business.

Education was a very important topic throughout the day and one where the tech and payment representatives and charities present, were of the same opinion: Tap to Give has to become a trusted brand. Or, as Rob Fox from event sponsor Creditcall put it, a contactless tap has to become synonymous with donating. Only, he argues, with widespread adoption will people change their behavior positively towards contactless charitable donations. Many concepts and strategies were discussed throughout the day, such as: Educating the collector – the more he knows about his contactless pod, the more he will convince people to tap and give. In the unattended space: Where your unattended terminal is placed is extremely relevant. For example, Mary’s Meals Lunchboxes are placed in locations where people will buy their daily lunch, hence triggering a connection between the spend on their own lunch and the opportunity to tap and give for a kid’s lunch.

Nor surprisingly, on a top level, everybody agreed that charities and vendors have to work together on a charity proposition. With The UK Cards Association not being able to engage in commercial discussions, maybe there is a need for another independent body to take on this role. For Contactless Intelligence, is was an extremely rewarding day, as it was at the annual Contactless Intelligence Conference in 2015 where the topic was first brought up in a dedicated session. We have followed developments in this sector ever since, bringing the right players together to start contactless implementations in this market. Last week’s Roundtable showed that the work during the last few years has been well invested, encouraging representatives from both sides of the table to have a day of constructive, forward-thinking discussion.