Students send Tikkies for everything

Please could you pay me €0,15

Dinners, nights at the club, even dates; they all end with the words ‘send me a Tikkie’. Requesting money has become the standard among students. And it can get pretty forceful at times. ‘I got kicked out of the group app because I forgot to pay.’
By Lyanne Levy / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Fifteen cents for mayonnaise. Forty cents for a cup of coffee from the RUG machine. Sixty-three cents for sharing a tube of Pringles. Students have embraced payment app Tikkie en masse. After all, they need every cent. And since the app doesn’t have a lower limit, they can ask for the smallest amounts to be paid to them.

Tikkie was introduced in 2016 and quickly took over the Netherlands. Master student European culture Aziza Zijlstra went to the UK to study for a year and when she came back in 2017, the money app was everywhere. ‘People settle every little amount. You have dinner together and next thing you know, you get a request for three euros.’

Whenever Aziza went out on the town in Manchester, everyone would simply buy a round of drinks. They would only split the bill after eating out in restaurants or after ordering food, and they’d pay each other back in cash. Back in Groningen, it took her a while to get used to all the Tikkies everyone suddenly sent her. ‘It’s kind of weird if someone sends you a Tikkie for a single beer, but I’ve started doing it myself. Everyone does it.’

Forceful standard

Medical student Lisa Vermaas has seen this happen as well. ‘Once one person starts settling up, everyone else just follows.’ You’ve basically got no choice, she explains: ‘If people send you Tikkies after a night out or put their expenses into the Wie Betaalt Wat app and you’ve paid for a round of drinks, you could end up paying double.’

Lisa and her fellow medical student Sarah Jonker don’t feel the app is necessarily great for friendships. ‘There are two kinds of people’, says Sarah. ‘The ones who are like, whatever, it’s fine, and the ones who even want ten cents back.’

The former might just be good with paying for lunch today and having the other person pay for it tomorrow. But if everyone just keeps sending Tikkies, it’s easy to join in.

That same night they sent me this really indignant message about how terrible I was for not having paid yet

Luzia Heu, a PhD student of cross-cultural psychology, says it’s a well-known phenomenon in social psychology. People might not agree with a certain standard but acquiesce to it because they think everyone else agrees with it. Besides, Dutch culture really lends itself to a phenomenon like Tikkie. ‘This is an individualistic culture focused on efficiency and we’re so used to talking about money; this country is a perfect breeding ground for a money-requesting app.’

Sarah realised it went pretty far sometimes. She was kicked out her KEI-group’s group chat because she’d forgotten to pay for dinner. The request came in in the morning and she’d planned to pay up the same day. ‘But when I went to check the chat that night, I’d already been kicked out. They sent me a really indignant message about how terrible I was for not having paid yet.’


Heu says that Tikkie would never work in other countries. She recently did some research in Egypt and if she’d suggested to settle up a bill there, she would have insulted her friends. ‘In a society where it’s rude to talk about money or where it’s an honour to invite people to dinner, Tikkie would never have worked.’

It usually takes international students a bit to get used to Tikkie. International business student Finn Scheff vividly remembers the first time he received a Tikkie. He was the only non-Dutch person on his volleyball team, and he couldn’t pay the request for a couple of beers, since he didn’t have a Dutch bank account. In Germany, people just have your IBAN or use Paypal, Finn said, and he circumvented the Tikkie issue by transferring the money.

Apart from the practical issues, internationals quite like Tikkie. ‘It’s a great invention’, says Riccorda Brusori from Italy, who is enrolled in the strategic innovation management master at the university. Usually when he goes out to eat with people, it takes forever before they’ve all paid their individual bills. But Tikkie is a great solution. One person pays by card, and everyone else just reimburses them.

In Italy you’d never send a Tikkie for a cup of coffee

In Italy, people tend to pay individually. ‘You’ll go out to eat or to a cocktail bar, which can be quite expensive. So people tend not to pay for a round of drinks. But if you go out for coffee, you’d never send a Tikkie for that single euro that a cup of coffee costs in Italy.’

Madeleine Steele from the United States, who studies international business, has also noticed how Dutch people want to settle literally every bill. In the US, everyone settles up the bill in cash, she says, ‘but no one would ever ask you to pay back just a few bucks. That’s just a nice gesture.’ She does like that the Dutch tend to split the bill based on what everyone ate or drank. ‘I’d feel uncomfortable if other people paid too much for me.’

Madeleine, German Finn, and his fellow student Jonas Jentsch all agree that anyone who sends a Tikkie for amounts under a euro is taking it too far. But Jonas also sees the bright side of the Dutch habit to count every single penny: ‘When someone pays for something and doesn’t ask for the money back, it’s that much more special.’


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