The organisation is testing the idea over an eight-week period in London, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham.
The magazine says it hopes to roll out the initiative nationally, to help its vendors – who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – to continue to make a living.
Vendors buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50. There are currently about 1,500 vendors, and last year they earned a total of £5.5 million.
What does The Big Issue say?
Russell Blackman, The Big Issue’s managing director, said: “We have long-recognised that we are operating in an increasingly cashless society.
“Big Issue vendors are micro-entrepreneurs, effectively running their own small businesses, so understandably there are many who are keen to respond to market forces and offer their customers an alternative to cash.
“The partnership with iZettle [which is supplying the contactless technology] reflects our shared values and commitment to creating a more financially inclusive society, supporting those whose lives have been blighted by poverty and a lack of opportunity.
“The Big Issue looks forward to providing our vendors with the opportunity to cater for their customers’ needs and increase their ability to earn a legitimate income.”