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And workers are reaping (at least some of) the benefits

Tim Nelson
October 26, 2018

These days, it’s rare to see a coffee shop that doesn’t feature some form or another of iPad-based payment system. Regular visitors to these kinds of spots may have noticed a subtle shift in their tipping behavior over time, given how easy it is to tack on a dollar or percentage of the bill with a single tap.

Well, if you feel like you’ve been successfully guilted you into tipping when you otherwise may not, you’re not alone. Data suggests that these sorts of systems have a real effect on total tipping and subsequent employee wages.

According to data shared with Skift by point of sale platform Toast, quick-service restaurants using their digital system have seem tips on almost 60 percent of card orders since 2017, up from 28 percent beforehand. Similar data from Square, the payment company that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey runs when he isn’t busy forgetting to ban nazis, suggest that the ease of use their payment system closes the gap in tip size between counter service joints and sitdown restaurants. Establishments that once relied on tip jars are now seeing an average tip of 13.8 percent, compared to 15.9 percent for wait-staffed spots.

In some cases, that effectively translates to a raise for staff. Toast VP of Product Yi Chen told Skift that some of their clients have seen anywhere from a 50 to 100 percent effect increase in employee wages thanks to the implementation of tipping screens, and other restaurants across the country mentioned that their employees are now seeing anywhere from $4 to $10 an hour in tips where they once got almost nothing.

It’s hard to say what exactly the impact of these systems might be in the broader fight over minimum wages in the restaurant industry. But it’s at least interesting to note that tablet-based payments can boost income for employees who once had to write witty pleas on tip jars to take home any extra pay. It turns out that technology can actually make people’s lives better sometimes. Who knew!  

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