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What Banks Can Learn from Toast’s 99 Cent Fee

What Banks Can Learn from Toast’s 99 Cent Fee

Point-of-sale (POS) and restaurant management platform Toast unveiled recently that it is rolling out a new fee. At only $0.99, the new fee doesn’t sound particularly problematic initially. Many of the technology provider’s customers, however, are not happy. And looking deeper into the issue, it’s easy to see why.

The fee

Toast is imposing the new fee to the end customers who make purchases of $10 or more on online Toast POS systems. The charge will appear under the “taxes and fees” line item. According to the Boston Globe, if a consumer clicks to see more information, they will see the charge listed as an “order processing fee” that Toast explains is “Set by Toast to help provide affordable digital ordering services for local restaurants.”

Circumventing their merchant client and charging the end consumer directly not only places strain on a restaurant’s business relationship with Toast, but it is also likely to strain the end customer’s relationship with the restaurant. Many have had to increase menu prices over the past few years because of inflation, and they have had to work hard to pay their workforce a competitive wage while not driving away customers with higher meal prices. Toast’s move is certain to exacerbate this.

There has already been much insight into why publicly listed Toast is doing this from a business perspective. The company has yet to become profitable and it’s stock price is down 61% since its 2021 IPO. With 85,000 merchants, Toast is sure to benefit financially from the new fee. Whether it will be enough to turn the company profitable is yet to be seen.

The fee doesn’t take effect nationwide until July 10, so the fallout is yet to be seen. So what can banks learn from this?

The lesson

Banks need to maintain tight control of the customer experience. With the “as-a-service” model taking off in banking, it makes sense that banks are leveraging third party technologies to create efficiencies and focus on their core product. There’s nothing wrong with using third party providers to help create a better user experience, build out a product set, or create a more secure environment. However, if there is a flaw that is the fault of the third party provider, it is ultimately the bank’s reputation that is on the line– not that of the third party.


Preventing the fallout of a rogue fintech partnership comes down to vetting the third party. It’s important that banks do their research by talking with other customers of the third party to garner feedback or run through customer scenarios to ensure optimal outcomes in all cases. Banks should also protect themselves by not locking themselves into a rigorous or limited contract.

Ultimately, banks are in business to serve the customer, and if a third party is ruining that relationship, it’s time for the bank to look elsewhere to suit their needs instead of sacrificing the customer experience.

Looking at Toast’s move, it’s difficult to say how (or if) the move will impact user behavior. When asked about potential customer reactions, Dustin Magaziner, CEO of PayBright, said, “I actually don’t think this will impact sales or customer relationships much. Many customers are accustomed to paying additional fees these days. However, I do think the angle to review this from is the lost revenue for the business owner. If a merchant runs 1000 online sales per month, it’s $1,000 the merchant is essentially not earning.”

Photo by cottonbro studio