Instacart rolls out an Instant Cashout feature for shoppers

Instacart is today launching a new feature aimed at allowing shoppers to access their earnings more quickly, the company announced this morning. Instant Cashout, as the option is called, was built in partnership with payments platform Stripe and is being made available to shoppers in-app for instant transfers to a debit card.

Previously, workers would have to wait a week to get paid.

With Instant Cashout, they can instead opt to have their pay immediately transferred to a debit card.

The company says setting up Instant Cashout takes less than five minutes, and shoppers will then be able to use the feature anytime going forward, 24/7.

The option will begin rolling out today in select cities, including Boston, Mass. and Bend, Ore. It will reach all Instacart shoppers by June 2019.

Shoppers will be alerted by email when the feature becomes available in their location, Instacart says.

The launch comes at a time when Instacart is trying to reset relations with workers, with whom it’s had a rocky relationship over the years.

Last month, the company reversed a controversial change to its tipping policy where it was using customers’ tips to offset wages. In some cases, when customers tipped up front believing their shopper was receiving that as a bonus on top of their wages, the shopper was actually receiving less money because the hefty tip was used for the guaranteed minimum payments Instacart promised.

Following the backlash from shoppers (and the threat of a class action suit), Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta admitted the tipping policy was misguided, apologized and said the company would stop taking workers’ tips going forward. It also retroactively compensated shoppers when tips were taken, and raised its minimum batch payments.

That wasn’t the first time that Instacart has faced issues around worker pay, either.

The company settled a $4.6 million suit in 2017 regarding claims that it had misclassified its shoppers as independent contractors and didn’t reimburse them for work expenses. As a result, it also had to change the section in the app describing its “service fee,” which many customers believed was a tip.

The year prior to that, Instacart removed the option to tip entirely in favor of higher delivery commissions, until workers’ complaints led the company to reconsider.

While workers will likely welcome a way to more quickly access their pay, it’s not exactly a groundbreaking feature at this point. In fact, it’s a case of Instacart catching up with other gig economy businesses — including Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash, for example — which already offer instant payments.

The feature was rumored to be in development as of a few months ago, so today’s launch may not come as a huge surprise for some. However, its arrival may help to retain some shoppers who would have otherwise decided to ditch Instacart given the ongoing issues around pay.

Correction: Due to an error, this was published today, March 27, 2019  instead of on Thursday, March 28, 2019 when the company planned to announce the news. With permission, we’ve left the article up.