Wireless charging ‘Smart Benches’ land in the UK – here’s how they work

UK charities are sitting on a gold mine after the launch of a range of ‘smart benches’ that accept contactless donations.

Launched on World Cancer Day (February 4th), the initiative between Cancer Research UK, Strawberry Energy UK and MKTG has seen 10 benches installed in the London boroughs of Lewisham and Islington, with plenty more on the way in the future.

People that sit on the bench can donate £2 to the charity by simply tapping their credit or debit card onto the reader, and the seats also provide USB charging points for mobile devices. They even have free Wi-Fi. The days of being bugged by high street charity fundraisers would seem to be numbered.

“These Smart Benches seemed like the next step in our use of contactless technology to bring charitable giving closer to our supporters, integrating it seamlessly into cutting-edge street furniture,” said Michael Docherty, director of digital at Cancer Research UK

The smart benches are also aiming to tackle London’s bad air quality by using built-in sensors to feed back real-time environmental data. This is ferried to Strawberry Energy who then upload it onto a smartphone app for users to take a peek.

Persuading people to donate to charity by getting contactless payment technology in as many places as possible is an ingenious plan. Data released in May 2016 showed contactless payments had tripled in 2015 compared to 2014. Considering that Android Pay and Samsung Pay had still not launched back when that data was released, taking advantage of contactless payment technology on these benches will be a big win for charities.

There are plans to have 10 more of the benches installed by the end of February and as many as 100 installed by the end of 2017, and MKTG are looking out for partners that might be willing to sponsor the benches.

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Have you already sat on one these contactless benches? Let us know in the comments below.