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What can replace cash for people who depend on monetary donations in times when cash is becoming obsolete?

Image credit: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8036237/council-urges-public-stop-giving-christmas-cash-homeless/

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Povilas S
Povilas S Feb 04, 2022
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Currently, cash is becoming more and more obsolete due to the increasing availability of various e-payments. E-payments are usually quicker, more convenient (require no change, counting, storing, etc.) and in many ways safer.
However, there are cases where it's hard to replace cash. One obvious example is beggars, also various street artists, and similar people who depend on donations in cash. Since people use cash less and less these days and often don't even have coins or notes with them, it also becomes harder for the mentioned groups of people to collect money on which they depend.
What means could be used to effectively solve this problem?
6
Creative contributions

Portable credit card machines.

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Feb 07, 2022
In South Africa, I've seen street artists, vendors and even people looking for "donations" making use of portable credit card machines that you can buy from companies independent of the big banking firms.
One example is the Yoco card machine. You simply connect it to your bank account and people swipe or tap for whatever amount they is entered.
In scenarios where the people who need these machines cannot afford them, charitable organizations could set up accounts and loan these machines out, at the end of the day a person would be able to return the machine, and the company can give them their earnings in cash equivalent.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
In accordance with what Spook Louw said, I would suggest a new feature that will be available to the iPhone users soon, and could consequently spread to all smartphones - using your phone as a POS device. People would use the phone's NFC chip to RECIEVE payments via other's people credit cards or "tap to pay" phone features. I assume the cashouts would also be available via the app (also using the NFC) since many top-up credit cards, for which you don't have to have a bank account (Povilas S), have it. When the feature becomes available on Android and Google Pay, all the beggars will need is an entry-level smartphone and it would be enough for their "business" to continue. They could charge their phones on smart benches or charging points around the city.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
The main problem I see with this option is that many homeless people don't have bank accounts and might not even be able to get those for various reasons. Another one is that card machines are quite bulky to carry around and present for those willing to give, especially when you have additional things to carry anyway (often all your belongings). Something like this is a better solution.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw4 months ago
Povilas S As I mentioned, it wouldn't be difficult to have donations received through such machines converted to cash. Also, these Yoco machines are no bigger than a cellphone or a pack of cigarettes.
Having these capabilities as a feature on a phone would definitely be the most comfortable and easy solution like J. Nikola mentions, but in the meantime, I don't see a better option than some hardware to facilitate card transactions.
The "payment jacket" mentioned above is also cool, but it works exactly like a Yoco and will have the same problems as well. For instance, when it's warm and you're not wearing the jacket you will have to carry it around and it will be much bulkier than a small machine. Also, it would also require users to have a bank account or a way of converting the money gathered to cash.
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Volunteer services with chaperones or donation stations with scheduled handouts

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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković Feb 04, 2022
Have uniformed, city-checked volunteers with some card reading machines that stand around the beggars to take in the digital payments. With prewritten sums of $1, $5, $10 on tablets that you would choose quickly. Then those volunteers would go out and raise cash from ATMs every hour or so and give it to the homeless. Or buy them groceries. Evenly spread between those in the vicinity if there are more.
After they get a considerable sum, for instance, half of a minimum daily wage per person, the volunteers would move on to a different area.
Or, just have these tablet stations across the city, unmanned, so that people can just quickly donate the money when they are waiting for the lights at a crosswalk, standing at the bus stations, near the pedestrian entrances to car park garages...
The tablets would be showing photos of the beggars' struggles or have messages to incite donations.
Then, the money would go into the system and the homeless would get equal cash payouts at designated checkpoints at the start or the end of a day.
One could also implement checks for sobriety at such places so that the homeless who are sober on pick up would get more money and be incentivized to remain alcohol or drug-free.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
The idea is not bad, but this would take additional workforce, and also, the distribution of money equally amongst all the beggars in the area would cause complications. The best would be to have efficient means that would let every separate individual receive e-payments (e-donations) directly.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
I have nothing against the idea:) It just made me realize one thing:
We are fixing an inefficient system (forced custodial cashless society) with another inefficiency (employing people to manually patch the weakness the system created).
At the same time, we already have a fix for the situation (bitcoin - cashless cash), but this fix doesn't include custodial oversight - an ability for big brother to use the monetary system as a system of control. So we are fearfully tiptoeing around it, pretending like it's not the best option.
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Alms and street workers

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MA
Marco Agudelo May 04, 2022
I will prefer to start by separating these two groups. Since alms and sharing money with street workers are similar to those who offer the help, they are both subject to fundamentally different natures.
Street workers indeed lack opportunities to access bank systems and struggle to acquire money in exchange for their work. Even more crudely, because they are outside of bank systems they in the long term are prone to pay more for similar things than those who move their money through banking systems.
In conclusion, electronic exchange systems could be a proper way to give street workers money and society should encourage them to learn how to access it, as well as everybody else should learn too. Here the solution I think, is not to implement yet another system, but to spread the use of current options.
On the other hand, alms to me, require fundamentally timesharing and there's nothing but gratitude in exchange for the money. Gratitude between humans is the main factor of the alms.
So to offer alms the one that gives it away should invest time to transform money into tangibles. This is to change cash for low rank bills or coins and have them ready, buy proper things for a particular person who needs them, give them in hand the food they are willing to share, etc. Alms is an act of humanism that implies a temporary solution. Society collectively as the human race could act on this topic, but I think that it is crucial that states handle the situation as well.
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Povilas S
Povilas S25 days ago
Regarding alms - some people are hesitant to give them even when they have spare change available. As cash becomes less and less used it becomes an ultimate excuse for many (including me) not to give at all. Cases when people go an extra mile to help beggars or other people in need are rare. Most might give if it's convenient enough for them to do it, but they won't put in additional effort (giving for free is already considered an effort). That's why it becomes a real problem for people who depend on monetary donations. And that's why I think we need to think of ways to solve it.
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MA
Marco Agudelo24 days ago
Yes your point is correct. Giving the money for free could be enough and the lack of cash (low rank cash) is a main cause not to offer alms. That is why I suggest that the state should handle the situation, and should be more regulated, since we already pay taxes to help needed citizens. Doing both things (paying taxes for it and offering monetary donations) could be a form of inefficiency. There are already programs to offer shelter, nutrition and other basic needs to those that need them. These groups employ a lot of resources on time, personel, money, etc, but I’m sure in every country, in every city there are exceptions that do not receive that help and are in a way explorers of the streets, free souls living off nothing but the chance. I believe we all know at least one.
An alternative would be then, to trace tax funding these activities.
Here is an approximation to the contribution by simplifying systems and empowering current mechanisms. Alms and people in extreme need exist before money in cash and will continue to exist once cash is gone.
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Display cards

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 07, 2022
Give them a few display cards like - "food", "clothing", "winter wear", "medicines", etc. at max 10 cards made of some light metal like tin or aluminum. They display what they need and people buy stuff from nearby shops and give it to them. Some might bring over their clothes that they do not use much.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
This can work only partially because store products can not cover all the needs of people depending on donations. The need for replacing cash with something else to enable versatile exchange would remain. Also, those in need would have to carry many signs around with them. And those who give would have to do more than just donate cash instantly, which would demotivate some.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 months ago
Povilas S Those who want to donate cash can do that. This is for people who do not carry cash. The cards don't occupy much space and are not heavy. I imagine them to be slightly thicker than paper and about A4 or A3 in size (paper sizes), which is not even as big as the sleekest laptop. I agree with display cards not covering all the needs. However, 10 cards will be sufficient to present 90% of their callouts for help.
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A physical item with a microchip that is not connected to any account

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Povilas S
Povilas S Feb 07, 2022
Because many beggars don't have or can't get or would have difficulties trying to acquire bank accounts, digital wallets, and similar means for storing finances, it would be best for them to have something physical that would serve as a "bank account" on its own.
This could be a card or an item in any other form, like a necklace, a bracelet, etc. that would contain a chip letting to charge and discharge it gradually. It would work similarly to cards enabling a certain number of call minutes in public phone booths that were used long time ago, just the chip would have to allow loading the value as well as discharging it.
Any contactless bank card could be made sensitive to this type of device. Touching it with your bank card or a smartphone through a financial app would load a certain monetary value on it. A specific value to load could be set by pressing a button on the receiving device which would jump between a few options back and forth or indicated in the smartphone app by the giving party, set through online banking amongst contactless card settings, etc. A device would have a tiny screen to show the monetary value which is currently loaded on it.
All the stores would also have to enable payments with those devices. Card machines would take a certain amount out of the device the same way they take it from a bank card. The production and distribution of such devices to people in need could be funded by the government or specific charitable institutions.
Such devices might be useful not only for extremely poor people but also for the rest of society. It might be convenient for any person to use that form of money storing/payment under certain circumstances.
How could such a device be called?
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QR code donation apps

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Povilas S
Povilas S Feb 07, 2022
Some apps enable donations by simply scanning a QR code that directs the donation to the receiving account. Paypal has this function. Such apps are mostly used to donate to fundraisers, charities, etc., but they could be upgraded to allow donating to individuals in the same way.
This would be more suitable for street artists and similar, less poor people who wouldn't have difficulty getting a bank account or a digital wallet but are nevertheless depending on cash donations. These types of people would also have less difficulty getting and keeping a smartphone. On the other hand, a QR code can be printed and displayed without a smartphone, but then at least a bank card is required to take the donated money out from/pay with.
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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
If not Bitcoin (the electronic equivalent to cash) then maybe this:

For basic needs, a beggar could sit in front of a grocery store and ask people that are going in for specific items.
p.s. I had the exact same brainstorming session in my draft folder:)
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
Darko Savic In this context, bitcoin has a few problems, first, the beggars might have difficulties using digital means - getting a smartphone, accessing the internet, creating a digital wallet, etc. Second, bitcoin is getting more and more controlled in the sense that you have to confirm your identity to be able to use it, because of this homeless people would have the same problems creating a bitcoin wallet as they might have when trying to open a bank account.
Regarding this topic, I first thought about posting a personalized QR code donation app idea, that I wrote as a contribution here, but later realized that the issue is more complicated to be solved with it and decided to post it as a session:)
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Povilas S only the on/off ramps are controlled. True non-custodial wallets don't care who you are as long as you have your keys.
People don't even need a phone to receive bitcoin. All they need is to show their QR code (as you say).
You bring up a very interesting problem to think about. "How would a homeless person without a device be able to spend their bitcoin securely?" I will ask Andreas on twitter if he has any ideas. Who knows, maybe he replies:)
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
Darko Savic Bitcoin could be loaded to a device I propose here and spent wherever bitcoin payments are accepted or converted instantly to other currency upon payment.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Povilas S no too long from now, people should be able to spend bitcoin anywhere, without the need to convert it. This is already possible in El Salvador.
Someone should figure out a way to spend your bitcoin without having a device on you.
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