Designing for Generosity

in startups

Plate with tip money

Earlier this week, I ordered an Uber to take my family home after a pleasant evening in a Japanese restaurant.

When the taxi arrived, my Dad launched straight into conversation with the driver and didn’t stop chatting until the moment we arrived at our house. The journey was smooth and quick, and the driver was incredibly courteous.

The jarring moment of the trip came after we had left the taxi and were approaching the front door of our house, when my Dad asked:

| “So, did you give a tip?”

I was stunned as I realised that, within the confines of an app where every payment is seamless and invisible, I wasn’t able to tip the driver.

| “I don’t think I can, Dad”

This jarring confusion led to a feeling of guilt. Our journey had been much cheaper than if we’d taken a people mover with a traditional taxi company, and if I ever take a taxi and pay with cash, I always tip. It’s something I subconsciously learned from my Dad.

As we move further towards a cashless economy where every transaction takes places in the cloud, I think it’s important that we design systems where customers are able to exercise generosity.

Should the platforms enabling these transactions take a commission on these tips? Probably not. This might explain why Travis Kalanick and his merry band of world-conquering growth hackers are yet to build it into Uber…

Admittedly, we don’t support tipping in Encore yet. If I’m honest, I would consider it more of a “nice-to-have” than an essential feature, but it’s something we discussed in the office this week, and we may roll it out later in the year.

I don’t have a strong conclusion to this post, but wanted to air my musings and invite discussion.

Are there any marketplace platforms that already support gratuity? Am I being old-fashioned? Have I missed something?

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