Fintech innovator XTM Inc.’s Today™ solution streamlines and simplifies the daily tip-out process for operators while delivering value beyond gratuities to employees. Today has been adopted by thousands of large and small operators across Canada including Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Earls, Mercatto, The Drake Hotel Properties, Gusto 54 Group, Lone Star Texas Grill and many more.
Dylan Erlendson isn’t your typical financial tech company sales lead. When he joined XTM in 2019 as Vice President of Sales | Hospitality, he brought insider experience and a deep passion for the restaurant business. After studying Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, he spent time in front and back-of-house roles under the likes of Janet Zuccarini of Gusto 54, David Grutman of Groot Hospitality in Miami, Steven Salm and Michael Kimel of Chase Hospitality Group and Planta Restaurants, as well as Michelin-starred Chef Akira Back.
Erlendson worked for a large hospitality group in Toronto, which gave him first-hand knowledge of the time and effort businesses spend on gratuity management, tracking and dissemination, as well as the associated tax liability risk. “Managing tip-outs is risky and time consuming from an operation standpoint. Our technology simplifies that and saves over $50,000 a year for any restaurant with 75+ employees. The Today solution is comprised of three parts: a portal for administrators to manage gratuity payments to employees or employee gratuity committees, a smartphone app and wallet and employee cards with free banking features. Employees pay no fees to spend with the card because XTM has a share in the merchant interchange when a POS transaction takes place. The card can be used at any merchant, anywhere in the world, and employees can also take advantage of exclusive rewards offerings they can redeem with national brands like Sephora, Xbox, Sonos, Walmart and Best Buy, with more to come.”
When an employee is hired by a Today-enabled restaurant, they receive information on how to download and use the app and a personal Mastercard tied to their wallet that stays active even when employees change employers. Earned gratuities are deposited daily into their Today account wallet and that employee may use those funds as they wish, by using their card to make purchases, transferring their funds into other accounts or visiting a bank machine to withdraw cash. “On the staff side,” Erlendson explains, “our aim is to create financial inclusion for the people who are serving everybody, and who are underserved when it comes to employee benefits and opportunities to build their financial well-being. Ultimately, we want to build an ecosystem that promotes financial health. Right now, it’s cash-back rewards, a robust budgeting tool with spending insights, and easy, instant access to your money. In the future, we want to include a financial ecosystem that includes virtual healthcare insurance benefits exclusive to Today members. In the Today FInancial app, they’ll be able to opt into healthcare benefits for themselves, because we have the user base now to make that happen. Hourly employees and other hospitality workers often have little to no access to health care and if we can be a big part of bringing that to the landscape, we want to do it and we feel that’s really, really powerful. We’re invested in being able to offer that; it means something to us.”
Perhaps most crucially, Today helps bring Canadian operators a step closer to combatting the tax liability pillars of possession for controlled tips (restaurants holding gratuities in their business bank account prior to disseminating them to employee-held accounts) and time (the allowable timeframe within which CRA expects employers to disseminate tip-outs to staff). “To combat possession, XTM uses a pre-funded settlement account,” Erlendson explains. “We pull a pre-authorized debit from the business account prior to revenue generation, which allows gratuities to be paid from a cloud-based holding account that functions like cash. When an employee works a shift, the business has already transferred funds to a wallet, which is immediately accessible to employee gratuity committee members who can transparently distribute those dollars to the employees who earned them within the CRA-specified, same-day timeframe. That process goes on daily throughout the week. At the end of the week, we’ll pull another pre-authorized, automated debit from the business account to pre-fund the next week. It’s automated so that it’s always there in advance of revenue generation.”
Today also saves time and adds new levels of transparency to tip-out systems. “The old-school method was usually an offline Excel document where you plug in your numbers and tell everybody what they made and show them a breakdown,” says Erlendson. “XTM now offers tip calculation software that integrates right into the point of sale that is completely transparent to all employees.”The XTM team has big plans for growth and expansion in 2023 that include enhanced personalization features and the ability to promote custom, in-app offers to members. “We’ve seen just tremendous growth and an incredible number of restaurants joining in,” Erlendson says. “We feel we are at the right time, the right place and feel privileged to serve the industry in this way. It always has been our goal to be the leader in hospitality payments.”
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Part 2: Federal Court of Appeal Ruling: Tips, source deductions, and how to protect yourself from liability
Originally Presented: November 8, 2022
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