EDITORIAL: Charities and disaster relief – prime candidates for contactless technology?

ChuggerThis post was first released on Monday 16th February. Contactless Intelligence Weekly News Review Editorial – Week 08 2015:

The UK, in my opinion, is a very charitable nation. Its a country known for church bazaars, jumble sales and all sorts of sponsored craziness: swimming across ice-cold lakes, cycling across the country, triathlons in the middle of winter. If it involves dressing up in something outrageous, making a tit of yourself and getting people to sponsor you for doing it – the Brits, as a nation, are there. After all, we brought the whole world Red Nose Day. You’re welcome.

Some of our readers who are not UK-based are probably scratching their heads and wondering what on earth I am wittering on about, so let me break it down for you: I am talking about the long tradition of charity in the UK; the giving of money for charitable organisations by the man on the street. Back when I was at University doing my Marketing degree (yes, I have a real qualifications in Marketing!) we were told that the the porn industry was the most innovative industry on the planet (the worlds oldest profession and all that). This was an industry that embraced change and innovation. The second most innovative industry, we were told, was the charity industry. After all, this is an industry that gets you to give money to feel good about yourself – all because you have helped others.

Is it any wonder that this industry (after transportation and ticketing) is embracing contactless and mobile payments so much?

Despite the recession, Britons still top the developed world in giving money to charity, with more than half of adults regularly giving to good causes. While cash donations are still the most common way of giving, direct debits are a growing market. In 2011/12, direct debit donations  accounted for one-third of the £9.3 billion donated. This is in the face of the news that a report in 2012 found that the fundraising organisations had become unwelcome in almost three out of four of the towns in the country and there have been moves to get MPs to force the workers into revealing how much of a cut they take from their activities.

I have seen a steady increase in stories and news releases over the past 18 months that cover contactless payments being used to collect charitable donations. Gone are the days of some Kagool-clad individual (I know, I’m stereotyping – that, and showing my age – I believe they wear fleeces or high visibility vests now?) in the street, rattling a tin or a small bucket at you (these charity collection representatives are unkindly known as ‘chuggers’). Today you can simply tap and pay with a contactless card or a use a form of mobile payments to make a donation. Over the past couple of years we have covered stories such as Royal British Legion using NFC for Poppy Appeal, Wristbands for premature babies ‘Bliss’ and Breast cancer charity ‘Coppafeel’using NFC wristbands to name but a few. This may have been a reaction to the public backlash against street ‘chuggers’ as many charities have switched to phones and have looked to technology as a way to raise money in a less aggressive way.

In a world-first use of contactless technology, the British public have had the opportunity to donate £2 to the charity’s research to beat cancer by tapping their contactless debit or credit card on the Cancer Research shop window recently. The opportunity to donate through the shop window was available 24 hours a day. Once a donation was made, an interactive screen showed the supporter the positive impact their donation will have in the fight against cancer. The technology was available in the windows of Cancer Research shops in Kensington, Guildford, Marylebone and Brighton from the 30 January, until last Friday – World Cancer Day on 13 February.

“Cancer Research UK is excited to be trialling contactless giving in four of our shop windows. We believe contactless technology will continue to grow in the future so it’s important that Cancer Research UK are active in this space and exploring it as a potential new way for people to donate to our work. We will still support more traditional forms of fundraising such as collection boxes, and indeed as part of the World Cancer Day campaign, we will have over 350 volunteer collections across the country, but we are always looking for innovative ways to fundraise,” said Cancer Research’s director of innovation, Paul Clarke. “We believe that contactless technology has the ability to drive substantial income for Cancer Research UK in the medium to long term. We also see this as a great opportunity to use our highly visible shops in 570 locations across the country as a new marketing channel, using interactive creative that really engages with our supporters old and new.”

This was made a reality by UK outdoor media owners Clear Channel. ‘’This collaboration is a great example of how we can leverage both existing and emerging technology along with consumer behaviour to deliver an innovative new way for Cancer Research UK to raise funding,” said Neil Chapman, head of create at Clear Channel.

Not to be outdone, Richard Curtis, Comic Relief co-founder has also looked to using contactless technology to bring in donations for the charity’s Red Nose Day. This year, Comic Relief will be offering shoppers yet another way to donate to Red Nose Day, in the form of contactless payments while at the same time, taking a selfie with a famous comedians. Some larger than life replicas of Comic Relief celebrities such as Billy Connolly, David Walliams, Dawn French, Rowan Atkinson, John Bishop and Miranda Hart will appear in cities across the UK. Passers-by will be able to donate £1 to Comic Relief simply by tapping their debit card on the comedians’ pocket.

People can donate via the contactless method by holding their card to the contactless reader in the comedian’s pocket until they see the “approved” message or they can choose to donate via their mobile phone using Pingit, Barclays’ mobile payment tool, which also enables a Gift Aid declaration to be made. A QR code will be positioned near the statue so that people can download the app. In addition, a Barclays ‘Digital Eagle’ or helper will be on hand to help you download the app to your phone and guide you through the giving process.

“Since the beginning of Comic Relief I’ve asked hundreds of exceptionally talented and generous comedians to do strange things to raise money and this might be the oddest request yet. Huge thanks to all ten who agreed to let us turn them into a statue. As well as perfect selfie opportunities, just a simple tap on the pocket with a contactless card will give a £1 donation to help incredibly vulnerable people in the UK and across Africa,” said Richard Curtis. You can see the promotional video here.

These acts of contactless donating also encourage the use of different payment methods. In one sense traditional ‘chuggers’ may find themselves becoming unofficial educators on how to make mobile or contactless payments. Now that’s something that delivers an unintended win/win scenario. Donate a pound to be taught how to make a mobile payment!

This year at the 9th Contactless Intelligence Conference on April 28th, we’ll be reviewing some of these charities’ use of this new payment technology, how they have implemented it and, more importantly, what the results have been. We’re calling it Implementing Contactless Innovation: Humanitarian aid in our own back yard? We’re showcasing an innovative charity campaign, as well as demonstrating contactless technology in disaster relief. And not to labour a point but flooding and storms (as seen across Europe) count as disaster relief. It’s not just natural disasters that occur on the other side of the world that we are interested in. Either way, it should be worth a listen to.

Kagools (and high visibility vests) are entirely optional.

Steve Atkins
Contactless Intelligence

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Categories: Contactless & Mobile Awards, Contactless Payments, Contactless Technology, Editorial

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