Real Change Launches App For Easy Payment

April 28, 2015 7:40am

iphone with edition

Now there’s one less excuse to purchase a Real Change newspaper, next time you see a vendor selling them in Green Lake or around the city. Real Change, the city’s weekly street newspaper sold by homeless and low-income vendors now have a new way for patrons to pay. Thanks to a new app launched earlier this month Seattleites can pull out their phones and scan a QR code to pay for an e-version of Real Change. Local Google volunteers developed the app over the past two years as part of a volunteer project– encouraged by the company–to find an effective technological solution to the challenges Real Change faces in a marketplace where more transactions are taking place electronically. As of today, the app is available for download on iOS, Android and Windows phones.

“Cashlessness is a challenge our vendors face on a daily basis,” said Timothy Harris, founding director of Real Change. “This app will help our paper survive in the digital age, when fewer people have ready access to cash and more people prefer to read news content on their mobile devices.”

Participating Real Change vendors will have badges with individualized QR codes. Customers who have downloaded the free app can scan the QR code to purchase a digital version of the issue from that particular vendor.

The project was started by a Google employee who volunteered at Real Change as part of Google’s annual week of service. Since then, eight Googlers have volunteered their time over the last two years to develop the cross-platform app, the first of its kind for the paper. “Being on the volunteer app development team has been a gratifying experience,” said Jill Woelfer, a Google User Experience Researcher who has been volunteering since early 2014. “The whole team has worked very hard to create a technical solution to provide opportunities for those who are in need.”

The Google volunteers working on the project developed the app to be easily adapted by other street papers.The price for downloading an e-version of the publication is $2.99 (including a fee from digital content providers) while the paper copy will continue to cost $2. Vendors will receive the $1.49 from the sale of the digital version, and $1.40 from the sale of the paper version.

For more information about the new app, visit Real Change’s new, mobile-friendly website at