Volunteers in Detroit and across the nation spent the night counting the homeless, and one of those men who lives in the cold is dealing with it in an unusual, yet efficient way.

He calls himself “Honest Abe” and he panhandles not just for pocket change, but also for the donor’s credit and debit cards. He accepts cards with a reader attached to his cell phone.

His real name is Abe Hagenston and he’s been homeless in Detroit for about seven years.  The 8 Mile overpass on I-75 is home. Without enough money to even eat consistently, he hasn’t made enough money this winter to buy new eyeglasses.

With the extra time Abe says he and a group of fellow homeless have organized themselves “like a union” to panhandle in shifts. He also used the extra time to figure out a way to make donations more efficient. Don’t have any change in your pocket? Not a problem.

“I take VISA, MasterCard, American Express,” Abe says. “I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card. It’s all done safely and securely through square.com.”

Square readers attach to credit cards and basically turn a smartphone into a card reader. They cost about $10 and square providers charge vendors a fee per transaction. In the case of itunes, the charge is 2.75 percent per transaction.

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