A Detroit Homeless Guy Accepts Handouts Through Mobile Credit Card Reader

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
A Detroit Homeless Guy Accepts Handouts Through Mobile Credit Card Reader
'Honest Abe' Hagensten has been homeless for seven years but he's developed a new way to help when people want to give him money. Photo: Mike Campbell/Twitter

Abe Hagensten, named “Honest Abe”, is claimed to be the only guy in America accepting donations with his cellphone.

A homeless man from Detroit is accepting money from people using his smartphone and Square payment app. Abe Hagenston, also known as “Honest Abe”, became homeless seven years ago. The 8 Mile overpass on the Interstate 75 highway is his home now.

Hagenston hadn’t been able to find a job for a long time, so he started asking for cash on the street. But he quickly understood there is a more convenient way of accepting payments: through credit card.

The 42-year-old man accepts payments from three major credit card issuers. “I take Visa, MasterCard, American Express. I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card,” Hagenston told WWJ950 radio station.

Square allows anyone with a mobile device to turn their phones into a card reader. The San Francisco-based payment processor was established in 2009 by Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey, who currently works as the CEO of Twitter. The company’s offices are located all over the world, including Australia, Canada, the US and Japan.

Square card readers cost around $10 and charge a vendor fee of 2.75% per each transaction.

“Honest Abe” plans to spend the funds on new eyeglasses, which he couldn’t buy this winter due to the lack of money.

This winter was especially hard for Hagensten. Because of the mild weather conditions in Detroit, he couldn’t earn money by shoveling snow, his usual source of income in winter.

“It’s not really that easy, what we’re lacking is snow … Of course, there’s no snow removal. I used to look forward to that, doing some shoveling,” Hagensten said.

Hagensten receives around $20-50 in donations per day. Still, the man noted he wants to work and sometimes accepts temporary jobs, including computer work, painting and yard work.

Besides, Hagensten has launched a website, where people can donate money to him and other homeless people in Detroit. “My business is being homeless, now homeless is my business,” the website reads.

Besides, the site lets other homeless in the region to sign up and find work in the list of offered jobs. Hagenston believes that Internet presence will enhance the situation of homeless popularity in Detroit.

“Being homeless gives a person a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong, and what a person could do differently if given the chance,” the man wrote on the website.

According to last year’s count, there are an estimated 2,700 homeless people living in Detroit.

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