- Buskers in London can now accept payment via contactless card readers, according to the BBC and others.
- London partnered with Swedish technology company iZettle and will roll the scheme out citywide after a trial period. Card readers plug into smartphones and similar devices and have an option to tap-to-donate.
- "Now, more Londoners will be able to show their support to the capital's brilliant, talented street performers," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, according to the BBC. Street performers will still be able to take donations in the form of loose change.
Busking, or street performing, is a staple of everyday life in London, as it is in many major cities across the world. And this system — part of a move towards contactless payment in cities that has included public transportation in Las Vegas and elsewhere — makes it easier for such street performers to make money. The BBC notes some performers have already seen what they called a “significant impact on contributions.” It is also part of the wider Busk in London initiative, which looks to make busking “as easy as possible” and set up the city’s first formal guidelines for street performance.
In addition to boosting street musicians' earning potential, this initiative also keeps with the city’s wider blueprint to become digitized and the world’s smartest city. At South by Southwest earlier this year, Khan warned that the government must do more to leverage the “tech revolution” and not be “passive” as it goes on around them. London's Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell added cities must also be cognizant of collecting public input while they innovate and digitize.
London's efforts could serve as a wider model for helping street performers make more money. If successful, such a scheme could roll out more widely, especially in cities where entertainers are popular. As urban dwellers rely less on cash, it could help prevent busking from becoming what current London performer Charlotte Campbell described to the Evening Standard as a “dying art.” The move comes shortly after online payment giant PayPal bought iZettle for $2.2 billion earlier this month.