PayPal serves up mobile payments with Pizza Express

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We all crave a good meal with friends at the local pizzeria now and then. But after devouring a couple of meat lover specials, every minute spent waving a hand in the air miming “check please,”— let alone waiting for a server to take for your credit card, swipe it, and bring it back—can seem like an eternity.

Customers of a British restaurant chain with iPhones in their pockets and a registered PayPal account need never suffer the interminable wait again. Starting today, diners at all 370 Pizza Express restaurants will be able to use the chain’s iPhone app to pay for their meals at the table via PayPal in “less than a minute.” No wait-staff intervention needed.

Here’s how PayPal describes it:

Whip out your iPhone, tap in the code on the Pizza Express app, checkout with PayPal and walk out the door. Easy as that! You can even add a tip and redeem voucher codes. You don’t have to go to the counter or wait for the waiter to run your credit card.

As PayPal battles with competitors like Square for dominance in the mobile payment field, the company has been pushing its code  so developers can easily incorporate PayPal into their apps. While other food vendors are using the service, Pizza Express is the first restaurant chain to integrate PayPal Mobile into its platform and represents one of the largest PayPal integrations to date.

PayPal isn’t the only company going after the food service industry. Square is also aggressively courting restaurants with its new app-based payment system that lets customers pay from their mobile phones with credit cards, but not PayPal.

On the hardware side of the spectrum, startups like E La carte are teaming up with restaurants to offer tablets on tables that offer the ability to pay at the table as well as play games and order food.

With mobile payments still in its infancy, it will take a while before a winning platform can be crowned. But one thing is clear. Regardless of which platform wins the restaurant war, waiters of the future will likely have a lot more time on their hands. If they have jobs at all.

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