Monday, March 7, 2016

Hi-Tech Begging

 

Today I read about Abe Hagenston, a homeless man in America, who has taken begging to new heights. He is happy to receive money via credit cards, and offers up his machined so donators can swipe their cards on them. Guess this was bound to happen.

Hagenston, who calls himself “Honest Abe,” was panhandling near the 8 Mile overpass on I-75 when the TV news folks caught up with him.

Abe proudly noted that he has helped organize some of the panhandlers in his area into a union of sorts. He says they’ve worked out a schedule to panhandle in shifts to avoid stepping on each other’s territory.

Disappointed that Detroit hasn’t seen much snow to shovel for extra cash, “Honest Abe” said his intake hasn’t been as good as it could be. But the new credit card swiper is helping.

“I take VISA, MasterCard, American Express,” Abe said. “I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card. It’s all done safely and securely through square.com.”

Anyone who has been to a large city will be familiar with being asked if they can 'spare some change' by homeless men on the streets.

However, that call could become a thing of the past now that one rough sleeper in Detroit has started accepting card payments via a reader attached to his smartphone.

Abe Hagenston, who calls himself 'Honest Abe', told CBS Detroit that he began accepting the payments while trying to save up cash for a new pair of prescription glasses.

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Hagenston told reporters that he has been on the streets for seven years, and lives underneath the 8 Mile overpass where it crosses Interstate 75.

While he would usually have spent the winter shoveling snow to make extra cash, Hagenston said this year's mild weather has left him with nothing to do.

So instead of going to work, Hagenston said he and several other vagrants from around the city have organized 'like a union'.

Now they take it in turns to panhandle across certain zones of the city before splitting the money they make between themselves.

As part of the team's efforts to rake in more cash, 'Honest Abe' acquired a mobile card reader from tech company Square.

Hagenston also appears to have a Facebook page with a Myspace account linked to it that goes under the name of 'Honest Abe'.

According to information on those profiles he graduated from LaBelle High School in Idaho in 1992 and studied at Edison State College in Florida.

He also claims 'consultant' as his occupation, but gives no details on whether he is still employed or what company he works for. 

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In March last year Hagenston (pictured) founded the new-defunct Spanging.com where he offered to complete odd jobs such as window washing and yard cleaning in return for money

An image uploaded to the Facebook profile appears to show a young boy leaning on his chest, thought Hagenston's face is not visible. 

This is also not the first time that Hagenston has attempted to use technology to make money, having previously founded website Spanging.com, according to another CBS story.

The site, named after a slang word for begging, was designed to attract offers of work from concerned passersby, with services on offer including yard work, painting, and window washing.

Square is a tech firm founded by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and provides businesses with payment methods based around smartphone and tablet technology.

The smallest credit card readers, which plug into Apple or Android smartphones, are usually free to acquire with Square making its money by charging a 2.75 per cent fee on each transaction.

The owner of the reader is then paid all their earnings the following day by direct debit into a bank account.

The readers, which can be upgraded to include a contactless sensor or a tablet attached to a swivel-stand, were designed for start-up stores or businesses with no fixed location - such as market stands or food carts.

Abe claims to be the first homeless person in America to make use of the technology.

He added: 'I take VISA, MasterCard, American Express. I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card. It’s all done safely and securely through Square.com.' 

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Hagenston now says he is accepting donations via card payment thanks to a Square reader attached to his smartphone (file image) which he says will be used to buy new prescription glasses

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