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Seattle's Real Change Paper Launches E-Payment App

Vendors of Seattle’s homeless newspaper Real Change are now able to sell digital copies and take payments with a new Android smart phone app. 

While the cashless, e-version of the street-corner paper isn't yet available for iPhones or through Windows mobile,  the makers and sellers of Real Change are calling it a big breakthrough.

“Because we had the problem where people would say I don’t any money today, I only have plastic. Ok, now we’ve got your plastic covered,” Real Change vender Sharon Jones said, grinning.   She's delighted to have a cashless option.

The app has a scanner that reads a black and white QR codes on new badge sworn by Real Change vendors. Jones says she’s been waiting for this for years because she earns her living selling the papers outside a donut shop at 5th and Lenora where customers often don't carry paper money.

Lack of pocket cash from customers is also a problem for Steve Allen, who just started as a real change vendor and is homeless. He hopes the app will help him sell more.    

“I see more people play with their phones and stuff around lunchtime than they’ll do with their wallets. …So I look at it as potential sales.”

Vendors earn more through the app – $1.49 instead of $1.40 –  because digital copies cost $2.99 instead of the $2 asking price for the printed version.

Fans of the physical newspaper can rest assured. There are no plans to phase it out and it’s still nearly a dollar cheaper than the digital version.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to