Service Design, Product Design

Busk Pay Devices

BuskPay is a low-cost interface device using NFC technology that expands the capability of the platform to facilitate cashless tips on the street. With a simple phone tap, passersby get directed to the web page to tip the buskers.

The Busking Project is the world’s largest arts organisation that focuses on supporting street performers. I offer. digital tools for buskers to further their careers.

The Challenge

To design a trustworthy device for use on the streets, which links the users to our platform, where they can tip the artists quickly and reliably.


When I designed the platform, we envisioned it as a touchpoint of a broader service that transitions between digital and physical channels. I wanted to enable buskers to use the digital tools to support their physical practice while maintaining the essence of busking as a traditional art form.


We have always offered signs that artists can print out to display a QR code or URL that directs passersby to their profiles. I saw an opportunity to take the signs to the next level using NFC Tags; a cheap and straightforward solution. The current devices on the market were created for small businesses, where lines are expected, and a server has time to focus on each payment. Street performers need an inexpensive, durable, waterproof device that doesn’t need charging, allows people to choose the amount to tip, and doesn’t require their attention during a show.

The Process

We used surveys to gather insights regarding basic specifications, such as size, colour, values to display, etc. I created paper prototypes, which we then took photos of and sent to our users for another round of feedback.


From a semiotics standpoint, I predicted that the devices should resemble widely used payment terminals, so that the ‘tap’ action was inherent, and the interface purpose was clear and to the point. Users should enjoy the artistic performance, tap, tip and go—no need to spend time admiring the sign’s design or wondering what it’s about.


I researched the materials, sent the designs to production, built the boards and selected 45 performers worldwide to test it on the street.


The test was successful. The buskers using the boards received more tips per show in comparison with performers not using them.

We involved the artists early in the creation process. They were amazingly committed to giving feedback (the community loved the idea of these new devices), making the innovation process much more productive.

I have evidenced a change in behaviour since founding The Busking Project in 2014. Back then, people weren’t as confident with cashless payments. Now, buskers and audiences embrace the technology—in part due to our service—enabling us to experiment and innovate.

Busk Pay Devices