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Brief Published: 15 Jan 2019

£3 Tap Donations to End London’s Homelessness Crisis


The rise of the cashless economy has inspired non-profit Tap London's new contactless donation points. Money raised from the terminals will support 22 London charities helping the city's 170,000 homeless citizens (Shelter, 2018).

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveiled 35 terminals across the capital in November 2018, with plans to expand the scheme to 90. The Tap points have been strategically placed outside locations such as theatres, cinemas, cafes and bars, where consumers will already be spending money. Each tap donates £3 ($4) to Tap London, which will distribute the funds amongst the London Homelessness Charities Group. At time of writing, more than £29,847 ($38,307) had been donated (Tap London, 2018).

Homelessness is on the rise; on one snapshot night in autumn 2017, local authorities estimated that 4,751 people had slept rough in England, up 15% on the previous year (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2018). In the US, 553,742 people were homeless on a single night in 2017 – the first rise in seven years (Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2018).

At the same time, the cash economy has declined sharply; 2017 saw cash payments fall by 15% to 13.1 billion, and by 2027 it's anticipated that 36% of all payments across the UK will be contactless (UK Finance, 2018). Charities are responding with a variety of contactless schemes. In the US, social good start-up Samaritan is using Bluetooth-powered beacons to help homeless people collect donations.

Tech-savvy charities are wise to adapt to consumers' changing spending styles in order to maximise spontaneous altruism. For more on the pros and cons of a cashless society, see Bespoke Banking, part of The Future of Money Spotlight.