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Mobile Monday: Square Wallet Enables On-the-Fly Tips & You Can Change Your Mind Later

imageSince much of my week revolves around reading and writing in various coffee shops around Seattle, I make sure to tip the barista so they don’t get annoyed with me using their wifi for an hour or two.

Tipping is very easy when paying with cash. You can easily drop the change in the jar. But with cards it gets trickier. With old-school signature system (i.e. mag stripe), it’s a little more time consuming, adding a tip amount and total, but still easy enough.

But with the move to contactless, no-signature below the floor (e.g. Starbucks) and many EMV transactions, the only way to leave a tip is to dig cash out of your pocket. But that kind of defeats the convenience of contactless. 

Maybe since it got it’s start as a POS device for small merchants, Square’s payment app, Wallet, had tipping built into it from the get go. As soon as the your wallet “pay by name” transaction is authorized, a message pops up on the iPhone lock screen, offering the opportunity to tip (see inset above).

Swiping the message brings up the transaction within Square Wallet, where you can choose your tip amount. The merchant can specify tip preferences by dollar amount or as a percentage of the transaction. The coffee shop I visited this morning offered $1, $2 and $3 choices for the tip. Those seem a little on the high side for a business with a $4 average ticket. Unfortunately, there is no way to override the choices and choose a different amount.

The app even allows you to go and edit the tip (see below). I’m not sure how long the “edit window” lasts, but you can certainly change it while you are waiting for your order.

Bottom line: The mobile wallet era will usher in a number of new payment behaviors. Tipping is just the tip of the iceberg.


Square Wallet tipping function (1 Feb 2013)

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