Tipping Gets A 21st Century Makeover
In the age of “debit or credit,” a new startup, DipJar, is helping change the way America tips. DipJar strives to fill the gap at establishments where customers would traditionally be generous with cash but no longer carry it, such as tip jars in coffee shops, contributions to performers in the park, and donations to nonprofits.
“These tip earners and charities have lost significant income because people have shifted to credit cards for most of their purchases,” CEO Ryder Kessler tells me.
Nine full-time employees have deployed hundreds of DipJars nationwide to customers large and small, from quick service restaurants to coffee chains such as Modmarket in Colorado and Texas, The Bean in NYC, and Filter Coffee in DC.
National nonprofits like the Salvation Army and Children’s Miracle Network also use DipJar in their charity efforts.
Based in New York, DipJar was founded by Kessler. In the summer of 2012, the company ran a trial of nearly two dozen machines in New York area businesses and charity groups. Some notable companies liked the idea and stuck with it.
“Our customers observe that all DipJar intake is incremental,” Kessler tells Hacked. “New money in the pockets of these employees and new money in the coffers of these causes. Even though credit card processing fees are a reality for these transactions, the intake we facilitate is money that would simply otherwise go completely uncollected.”
Kessler plans to expand the effort and “generate more income for their employees and more intake for their causes.” DipJar became a reality as people increasingly became dependent on credit and debit at the point-of-sale. The company plans to stay on top of payment trends. For instance, while Apple Pay and near-field communication payment mediums have been slow to catch on, DipJar keeps an eye on them.
“When the time comes, we’ll introduce ‘TapJar’ — a trademarked and patented technology — so a giver can tip or donate simply by tapping their phone to our hardware,” Kessler explained.
DipJar is poised to tap into a so-called “gig economy” characterized by low wages, part-time work, a lack of benefits and little job security. These kinds of jobs are typified by ‘on-demand’ service providers whose contractors might pick you up in their car, do your grocery shopping, or drop off your dry cleaning at the touch of a button on your iPhone.
DipJar featured in Cosmopolitan
“These on-demand services rely on a set of workers who not only lack the predictability and protections of conventional employment, but whose labor is increasingly invisible,” Kessler said. “When you don’t have to see someone face-to-face or put money in their hands to get their services — since the app performs these functions invisibly — there’s dangerous potential to forget that there are real people at the other end of these apps.” Over time, Kessler believes consumers, businesses, the government and on-demand workers will be able to find a happy medium.
“Anything we can do to recognize labor and support those who provide it – like tipping generously – will help people who are working hard but still need a hand,” he said. Spreading generosity is DipJar’s goal.
“We want to facilitate generosity however people are paying for things,” Kessler said.
Update. Article revised with a reference to Central Park Conservancy now removed.
Images from DipJar.