An unexpected consequence of carrying around less cash and purchasing items instead with debit and credit cards is that consumers have less spare change to give to homeless people. Noticing the impact on that population, a team in conjunction with Oxford University has been at work developing a solution.

Greater Change is a system for donating to the homeless or to those on the verge of becoming homeless by means of an assigned QR code that consumers can use to transfer money via a scan of their smartphones.

An individual QR code is assigned to each homeless person who signs up for the service. Each donation received under a specific QR code will pour into that homeless person’s account only. Caseworkers oversee the accounts, making sure that the donations go toward an agreed-upon goal such as accumulating enough for a homeless person’s rental deposit.

Scanning the barcode that is worn like a badge around the neck of the person in need, consumers can read a short biography of the person in need with details noting how that person ended up on the streets and what it is that he or she is saving for.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com