Restaurant reservation website OpenTable is angling to make itself even more indispensable, introducing a mobile payment option for diners.
OpenTable, which lets diners reserve tables electronically either by computer or mobile app, seats 14 million diners a month across more than 31,000 restaurants nationally. In June 2013, the company acquired restaurant payments company Chalo for $11 million in stock, and began testing mobile payments a month later.
"In a few years' time, we hope we'll be as known for [phone payments] as reservations," Matthew Roberts, OpenTable CEO told Fast Company.
Roberts introduced mobile payments in San Francisco earlier this month for iOS users — an Android version is still in development — but just a dozen restaurants are signed up to accept.
OpenTable users who reserve through the system and are approved for the mobile payment option are identified in the restaurant's POS system. Servers will see a notation to the effect that the diner can request the check and pay in the traditional manner, or pay the bill directly from their mobile device from the table.
In the future, there will be an option to split checks. The code already exists but the company wants to keep it simple at the outset. Payment fees are intended to be in line with current credit card swipe fees, said Roberts. "What [the restaurants] want to know through the beta is: As these transactions grow, how much more money are you making me? How much more are you saving me? Is this resulting in bigger checks, bigger tips, more loyalty? Will it bring new people because it's a new product?"
The user-interface may be simple, but integration into existing POS systems is not. "This is not a snap your finger and we'll have 10,000 restaurants on this thing," Roberts said.
-See this Fast Company story
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