Homeless people are preparing for a cashless society by accepting online payments.
Beggars in China have been using QR codes that people can scan to make a donation for more than a year.
Oxford University has now backed an initiative in which homeless people wear QR codes around their necks in an attempt to increase donations as use of cash declines.
As part of the project, called Greater Change, homeless people are handed a QR code, a square barcode that can be scanned by smartphones.
Passers-by who wish to give money but do not have any change can scan the code and make an online payment.
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The donation goes into an account which is managed by a case worker, who ensures that the money is spent on agreed targets, such as saving for a rental deposit or a new passport.
While there have been claims in China that beggars are in fact working for companies trying to promote their own QR codes, the Oxford initiative aims to make sure any money raised is used appropriately.
"The problem we're trying to solve is that we live in an increasingly cashless society and, as well as this, when people give they worry about what this money might be spent on," Alex McCallion, founder of Greater Change, told the BBC.
"So the solution we've come up with is a giving a mechanism through your smartphone with a restrictive fund."
Homeless people sign up to the scheme to receive a QR code tag. When you scan the barcode on your smartphone, a profile of the homeless person appears. This tells you more about their circumstances, such as how they became homeless or what their job used to be.
The project, which is being trialled in Oxford, is supported by Oxford University Innovation and Oxford's Said Business School.
- Telegraph Group Ltd