If you don’t have any cash on you, you can buy a Real Change newspaper with your phone.
No cash? No problem.
With the Venmo app, you now can buy Real Change with your phone.
As fewer people carry currency, the nonprofit is banking on mobile payments to preserve a model based on personal interactions between homeless or low-income vendors and their customers. “The sale of the paper is not just a financial transaction but a conversation across classes,” says the paper.
Associated with PayPal, Venmo is a digital wallet that allows you to send money to — or receive money from — anyone with an account. It’s often used among friends and family to split restaurant bills. But it’s also good for payments to merchants, like Real Change, which are set up to receive them.
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Here’s how it works:
1. Download the free Venmo app onto your smartphone.
2. Create an account, which requires an email address or Facebook account.
3. Set up your payment method, which can be a bank account or a credit card. A 3-percent fee is added to credit card transactions.
Once your account is set up, it takes only a couple of minutes to buy Real Change from a vendor on the street.
1. Click the icon in the upper right with a dollar sign on it.
2. Enter “Real Change” or “@Real-Change.” The wording must be exact.
3. When the Real Change icon pops up, click on it.
4. Enter the amount you want to pay. Cover price is $2, and tips are welcome.
5. In the box that says “What’s it for?” type the vendor’s name and badge number, then tap “Pay.”
The money will be deposited in the vendor’s account, and she or he can pick it up the next day.
Some vendors are more familiar with the app than others. Real Change will be working this year to encourage more Venmo sales.
This is the paper’s second attempt at digital payments. The first was an app developed by Google volunteers that allowed buyers to scan a vendor’s badge, pay and download a digital copy of the paper. But it never caught on, and had to be constantly updated as phone systems changed.