London buskers are the first to accept contactless card payments

Busk In London

Thanks to an initiative from the Mayor of London, with some help from tech firm iZettle, you can now go contactless when rewarding buskers on the streets of the English capital: just tap a card, a wearable, or a similar NFC-enabled device to leave a tip.

All the street performers have to do is plug a special card reader device into their smartphone, set the default donation amount (which should be displayed on a sign somewhere close by), and wait for people willing to tap to pay. Presumably you'll still be able to toss a few coins into an open guitar case as well, if you prefer.

"Busking helps emerging artists to hone their talent and gives them the chance to perform in front of huge numbers of people," the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan explained to Sky News. "Now, more Londoners will be able to show their support to the capital's brilliant, talented street performers."

Modern life is easier

The new modern form of tipping has already been trialled for several weeks and will shortly be rolling out to all the London boroughs in the coming weeks. According to full-time busker Charlotte Campbell, who has been part of the trial run, it helps bring in more donations.

"It's already had a significant impact on the contributions I've received," she told Sky News, based on two weeks of using the system. "More people than ever tap-to-donate whilst I sing, and often, when one person does, another follows."

Swedish firm iZettle specializes in making it easier for small businesses and independent traders to accept card payments, and the outfit was recently picked up by PayPal for $2.2 billion (about £1.65 billion or AU$2.9 billion) – a move which might see PayPal establish more of a presence in the high street.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.