Technology / Hardware

Tipping for contactless payments?

Especially in the U.S. tipping is important. Exchange students that are here in the U.S. for a semester 0r any other visitor have to get accustomed to gratuity. Especially, when paying at a restaurant for the first time.

The international education company Education. First (EF) for example has an introductory article into tipping.

In the past tipping either happened with cash or when signing your credit card receipt. The latter requires doing some math or checking a checkbox on some of the more sophisticated receipts.

But when the pandemic hit with COVID-19 a lot of companies, including restaurants, fast food and other takeout places switched to touch-less payments — with the exception of tipping. To this day it still happens in cash, via credit card receipts or by tapping a touch screen. None of these are very hygienic as the sales person has to handle the money, receipts, pens or using the touch screen again that every customer used.

In 2020 I posted this message proposing that contactless payment technologies should support tipping. This could have many benefits such as:

  1. better hygiene
  2. customers can have default tipping settings
  3. customize tipping by place
  4. faster transaction
  5. more secure
Proposal from 2020, showing an Apple Pay checkout screen with the added detail of a tipping section. The user can select their usual preference for tip (e.g. 15%, 20%, 25%).

Implementing a tipping system into touch-less payments, is of course not trivial, as the payment terminals would have to support this scenario and some new standards would have to be created.

But I think it would be a great improvement to the entire NFC payment system. Additionally it’d be great if the tedious insecure signature could be replaced by a PIN or hardware authentication, but that is a topic for another post.

Also published on Medium.

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