By Jill Jaracz


5 Min. To Read

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You've just ordered an impossibly complicated coffee drink at your local coffee shop, but the barista remembers exactly how you like it and doesn't raise an eyebrow over your needing a two-thirds caf, one-third decaf, mocha skim latte with part soy milk, part skim milk with just a little bit of foam. The barista even gets your coffee to you before you're finished paying. Service like this deserves a tip, but sadly, you're paying with a credit card. You check your pockets and wallet for some loose change, but the dime you found won't adequately explain how you feel about the service.

Luckily, there's now a way to use your credit or debit card to quickly tip for quality service at businesses that normally have a tip jar at the front counter. It's called DipJar, and it allows you to give a fixed amount tip with your credit card.

The DipJar looks like a tip jar, but it has a slot for your credit card, and there's a specific amount, say $1, that's located on the jar. You dip your card into the slot, pull it out and your card will automatically be charged the amount of the tip. If you want to leave more than the pre-set amount, you can swipe your card twice. No signature is required.

As a security measure, the software in the jar encrypts the data from your card so that it sends the information securely to its servers. The jar itself won't keep a record of any personal information. The software can also track suspicious behavior, such as if a card is dipped repeatedly. Customers do have the opportunity to contest any charges to their card.

DipJar was created by Ryder Kessler, who wanted to come up with a way for small businesses to earn tips in a world where more and more people were paying for small purchases with plastic. Kessler did research and found that people who paid for their purchases with cash would tip with cash, but people who paid with plastic often wouldn't tip at all, meaning lost income for foodservice employees. Kessler spent three years developing DipJar as a way to help those employees get the tips they deserved.

Retailers can get a DipJar free of charge. When they receive the DipJar, they register it on the company's website and then just plug it in and put it on the counter. Customers can then start using the jar for giving tips. Businesses can even allot tips to the right employees because DipJar will record the time of the tip, making it easier to determine which employees were working at the time of the transaction so that they can be properly compensated.

However, the system is not totally free of charge. Processing credit cards costs money, so DipJar does take a small amount of each tip to cover the processing fees incurred by the credit card issuers. Currently that means DipJar takes about 20 cents of every $1 tip, but the company says it's working to decrease those costs so that more tip money can be passed on to employees.

The first DipJars were launched earlier this year with a pilot program in New York City at a few locations. The company is continuing to test the machines and tweak the product and its software as issues come up. According to its website, it hopes to expand to other locations around the country. It also is looking into accepting other forms of electronic payments other than credit or debit cards. Interested retailers can e-mail DipJar through its website to get more information.

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