Buskers attuned to changing times trial tap-and-go payments

PIN blunder sees man accidentally pay $29,300 for two steamed buns
(Supplied: Socialise Photo) ABC Radio Melbourne

By Nicole Mills


July 28, 2018 08:00:09

Jessica Paige had to move spots to find older audiences who still carry cash.
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A trial of tap-and-go payment systems is being rolled out by 15 street performers across Melbourne.Appreciative audiences will be able to tap their credit cards on portable payment devices for a set amount of $2 or $5 — or more if they wish.The trial also offers the option to pay with Alipay, a smartphone payment method used by many Chinese tourists. “So it does happen, but it’s a small percentage at this point.”He said busking in the CBD meant cash was never far away. Generally, the answer to that is there’s a teller machine about 20 metres that way. “You get, particularly the younger demographic, occasionally they might do the old pat the pockets and give you a bit of a shrug like they’re letting you know that, ‘Hey, I might have chucked something in but I don’t carry cash’. “I’ve had people say, ‘I’d buy your CD but I don’t have any cash on me’. “I’ve been going a bit further abroad to where there’s more older people who don’t use paypass for everything.”I’ve been going to the older suburbs, but I’m hoping to be able to hit the city more now.”

More than 870 million people use Alipay, a related company of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. (Facebook: Mark Holroyd)
He said getting set up with a QR code was simple.”I don’t think there’s a limitation for anyone — anyone could get one, anyone could apply for one, anyone could start up.”Mr Richardson has been busking full-time for about a decade and said he was starting to notice fewer people carrying cash.”It’s the early days I think,” he said. If it’s successful, it could be rolled out for street performers across Australia.Tip of the icebergDan Richardson began the trial this week and said it opened up a whole new audience.”As I understand it, in China these days you don’t leave home with a wallet, you just have your keys and your phone,” he told ABC Melbourne’s Richelle Hunt.”If you want to buy something from a vendor they have a little QR code, which is sort of like a barcode, and you can scan it with your phone and pay for whatever you want.”

Dan Richardson is part of a trial using tap-and-go and phone payment platforms. “They might need to latch on to the idea.”Luke Fuller from Quest, the company enabling the tap-and-go component of the trial, said while many businesses were thriving with the shift to digital payments, there were pockets of society that had been left behind.”The busking community is one of them,” he said.”This program is about levelling the playing field for buskers and giving them every opportunity to continue doing what they love — entertaining.” (Supplied: Socialise Photo)
Before the trial she had been investigating alternate payment systems, and even considered buying a portable payment device designed for charities.But that required an investment of $800.She’s hoping the combination of a tap-and-go system and the QR code linked to Alipay will help generate more income.”I’m hoping that people are going to donate a lot, but I guess we’ll see,” she said. The pilot program will run for up to six weeks in order to get feedback from buskers, who will pay a 1 per cent fee on every transaction. The days of buskers laying out an empty guitar case or a battered hat in the hope of attracting some spare change could be numbered. “So I don’t think the barriers have been too huge but I think it’s the start.”It’s the tip of the iceberg and at some point in the future I think there’ll be less and less cash going around.”‘I guess we’ll see’Jessica Page has been busking for 17 years and said she had seen a significant decline in revenue, particularly among younger people in the CBD.She said she now made about 20 per cent of what she used to from busking in the city.”At the moment it’s the worst it’s ever been,” she told ABC Darwin’s Liz Trevaskis.