Dear buskers,
As far as I can tell, we’re about to become the only cashless payments service on the planet with no upfront costs, no monthly fees and 0% in transaction fees.

To see whether this is viable long term, we’re going to conduct a two-month test:

From February 1st to March 31st, you’ll get 100% of the amount people tip you on

During this time:

• Either the tipper will pay an extra charge on top of the tip
• Or The Busking Project (us) will pay the fees out of our own pockets
• You, the busker, will not lose anything in fees.

That’s all you really need to know. The rest of this email describes how it’ll work in practice.

I hope you’re all staying safe,



Our current tip screens

This is what our payment screens currently look like: your profile photo, name, the tip currency, amount and a button to confirm. It works fine, but unfortunately…

…when you get tipped on, you lose a random(ish) fee that we have no control over.

Today, every tip you receive on is split between you and the transaction fee charged by Stripe or PayPal. So, if the tipper pays you $5, the fee you lose would be around $0.25, and you’d receive around $4.75.

Why don’t we know exactly how much the fee is? Because Stripe and PayPal don’t make it easy! The percent they take depends on:

  • how big the tip is (the smaller the tip, the larger the % lost)
  • the currency
  • and whether their bank currency matches yours

In other words, you will pay a much higher percentage in fees on a small tip from a tourist (as much as 33%) than you would on a large tip from a local (as little as 2%).

The good(ish) news is that on average, however, across all the tips made our platform, since 2014, buskers have paid just over 5% in fees. In other words, for every dollar tipped on our site, 5 cents has gone to Stripe and PayPal’s transaction fees.

We can’t change how much they make. But we can make the system fairer. So…

The new tip screens


4. Tipper can pay the fees

Our new screens have a checkbox, checked by default, which says “Pay the transaction fees ($0.30)”.

Here it is, zoomed in a little:


If the tipper doesn’t un-check that box, they will pay the transaction fee, on top of the tip. If they do uncheck that box, the fees will come out of the tip.

The good news, for you, is that we believe that in the vast majority of tips, that box will remain checked. In other words, on the majority of tips, you’ll pay nothing.

Here’s a graphic to explain:

If you pay, you only lose 5% (instead of a random amount)

More good news. Instead of having some random transaction fee based on the size of the tip, we’ll standardise the fee you lose (if the tipper unchecks the box) to 5%:


What if the tipper almost always pays the fees?

We found a similar tipping platform in the service industry (i.e. used by cafes and restaurants), which says tippers leave that boxed checked 97% of the time.

Unfortunately — there aren’t any largescale studies on this kind of behaviour before, where tippers are forced to choose between themselves and the recipient — but let’s say in our case, the tipper pays the fees 90% of the time.

So, 90% of the time you lose 0% in fees, and 10% of the time you’d lose 5%:

0.5% is almost nothing. That’s 1/2 a cent on the dollar.

In fact, that’s a small enough number that we should be able to cover it ourselves.


This is what we’re going to test for the next two months. Fingers crossed, this’ll all go brilliantly, we won’t lose any money, and we’ll be able to give buskers 0% fees on our website forever 🙂


1. We’re upgrading the tip screen design

2. We’re adding an “Pay the transaction fees” checkbox, which will be checked by default.

3. We’re testing what will happen if whether we can give you 100% of the tip, 100% of the time.

4. The test will last two months.

Question: wouldn’t you like to know you’re getting 100% of the tip, 100% of the time?

I certainly like that idea!

With love,