Does New Processing Technology Encourage Tipping?


A few months ago I took a car service to the airport. The driver used a mobile payment system to collect his fee, and after he swiped my credit card he handed me his smartphone to complete the transaction. But before I could sign for it, the screen offered me the option of adding a tip in specific increments— 15, 20 or 25 percent.

This scenario is playing out more frequently and, according to some observers, is resulting in more frequent and larger tips from consumers. For example, a recent survey from Software Advice, an iPad point-of-sale reviews and research firm, asked patrons familiar with leaving tips via iPad POS software at food and beverage establishments about their preferences for using these systems to tip. The key findings were as follows:

  • Over 50 percent of respondents said using an iPad to leave a tip at food and beverage establishments is “not at all difficult.”
  • A combined 41 percent said close proximity to the server/cashier while entering a tip amount would “probably” or “definitely” increase their likelihood to tip.

    Eighty-six percent of respondents with a preference preferred to use iPads to input tips themselves, rather than having the server/cashier do it for them.

    Thirty-five percent of female respondents would tip more if the server or cashier input the tip for them, compared to only 19 percent of male respondents.

    Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they would be more likely to leave a tip if required to press a “no tip” button to opt out of tipping.

“As the adoption of iPad point-of-sale (POS) software continues to increase, it’s imperative for restaurant operators and their servers to understand the effects these systems have on tipping,” concludes Software Advice. “Restaurant professionals should be heavily invested in this information: Greater tips often lead to happier employees, which can facilitate improved customer service and experiences — which typically leads to happier customers who tip more frequently, and in greater amounts.”

Kam Leung Yeung of the University of North Florida has studied consumer and environmental decision making. Writing in The Washington Post recently, he notes that there is increasing evidence that electronic payment systems prompt more customers to leave a tip, even in places where tipping is not usually expected.

“These payment systems not only encourage people to tip more frequently, but also push them to dole out larger amounts,” he notes. “For instance, tips given to New York City taxi drivers averaged about 10 percent in the cash-based system. With the introduction of credit card payment systems, the average tip grew to 22 percent in 2009.”

With tablet-based POS systems like ProcessNow® Register and ProcessNow Mobile from TransFirst® that offer tip management becoming increasingly popular with businesses of all types, their impact on how America tips will be an interesting story for business owners, their employees and customers to follow.


Trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are not necessarily affiliated with TransFirst. iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc.

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