One of the most broken experiences at a restaurant is paying for the check. After flagging down a waiter, I have to wait until they can bring me the bill. Then it’s another wait to give them my credit card and then one more interaction to sign the bill before I can leave.
That’s why I’ve been excited about Tabbedout, an Austin, Texas startup that has been trying to speed up the process of paying at a restaurant or bar using a smartphone. The company has been signing up restaurants that use its mobile app to help customers open up a tab on their phone and then check out with a stored credit card. Now, it’s letting restaurants that have their own mobile app easily embed the Tabbedout experience with a mobile SDK for iOS and Android. This way customers aren’t forced to use Tabbedout’s app.
Tabbedout in April integrated its payment technology into T.G.I.F’s Friday’s app, which was the first time it offered its mobile payments in another app. With the mobile SDK, other restaurants can drop in Tabbedout’s payment framework into their app, which can communicate securely with Tabbedout’s infrastructure.
Consumers just open the restaurant app and start a tab using a stored credit card. During their meal, they can see what orders have been added to their bill. When it comes time to settle up, they can just pay with their credit card from the app. Users can also choose to split the bill with other people in their party. Unlike other mobile payment systems, Tabbedout doesn’t rely on businesses owners buying scanners or NFC readers. That’s because it’s integrated on the backend with point of sale terminals from Micros, Future POS, Focus and Dinerware, which covers about 70-80 percent of the restaurants and bars in the U.S.
Arturo Coto, VP of sales and marketing Tabbedout told me that restaurants are starting to realize that the slow payment process can be a liability for them. Many have traditionally prized the payment interaction as the final chance to leave a good impression.
“What they’re realizing is delays in the process like if a server is busy, can only ruin the experience,” Coto said. “They’re starting to see the value of mobile payments as an enhancement to the guest experience rather than taking away from that last touch point.”
Tabbedout is currently deployed in 1,000 locations including 380 T.G.I.F. restaurants. It has two more big chains poised to integrate Tabbedout into their mobile apps, Coto said. The new SDK will not incorporate PayPal as a funding source, even though Tabbedout started testing PayPal integration at restaurants in Austin earlier this year.
The new SDK won’t work for restaurants that don’t have their own mobile apps. But for those that do, it makes their apps a lot more usable instead of just offering menus or location finders. And it really shows how the checkout experience can be improved through mobile payments. Having to wait for a waiter to appear several times has often kept me at a restaurant much longer than I wanted to. If I can be assured my bill is accurate and then pay when I’m ready to pay, that makes the whole experience more enjoyable.