Homeless people in Oxford wearing QR codes to encourage cashless donations


A project by Oxford University has got homeless people wearing QR codes around their necks as part of an attempt to help them integrate into an increasingly cashless society.

Social innovation project Greater Change aims to allow passers-by to donate money to the homeless using a smartphone application.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK/GREATER CHANGE

A project by Oxford University has got homeless people wearing QR codes around their necks as part of an attempt to help them integrate into an increasingly cashless society.

Greater Change, a social innovation project founded by Mr Alex McCallion, distributes lanyards with QR codes attached to homeless people who sign up for their program.

"The problem we're trying to solve here is that we live in an increasingly cashless society," Mr MacCallion told the BBC.

Given that an increasing number of people are turning to virtual modes of payment rather than carrying spare change around with them, Mr MacCallion's project aims to allow passers-by to donate money to the homeless using a smartphone application.

When an individual scans one of the QR codes, they can make a donation through their smartphone to a restricted fund. They will also be able to read a profile of the person they are donating to which explains their circumstances and how they came to be homeless, or what their job used to be.

Another issue the project aims to address is the concern many people have, that money given to homeless people will be misused to purchase items such as alcohol or drugs.

In order to tackle this, a case worker is assigned to co-manage each homeless person's account in order to ensure the money is spent properly on pre-agreed targets such as rent deposits and attaining documentation for a passport. 

People who use the smartphone application can view these targets, as well as how much money has already been donated towards them.

Though some might find the idea of being scanned dehumanising, one homeless woman the BBC spoke to felt it would not be much of a problem.

Asked if she "felt like an object in the supermarket" when her QR code was being scanned, she said: "Yeah, but never mind, if you're going to get what you need, it's a good idea."

Source: Straits Times


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