6 Mobile Payment Solutions for Restaurants and Bars

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restaurantWhen it comes to mobile payment processing, the restaurant industry is in a league of its own. Mobile platforms that are designed for a wide cross-section of businesses don’t always have the features that restaurants need, like menu integrations and add-on tipping tools. As restaurant owners look for ways to streamline the payment process and improve table turnover rates, an increasing number are utilizing mobile payment solutions built specifically for their industry.

Vendors are using hyperlocal technology to speed up the process of tallying checks and collecting on tabs. The apps that these vendors are creating allow diners to split bills, calculate tips, and in some cases, even place orders and settle their tabs without waiting for a server’s assistance. This results in faster turnovers, larger tips and more repeat customers.

Here are six mobile payment solutions built for restaurants.

1. TabbedOut: Let customers settle tabs with their smartphones.
TabbedOut offers a free mobile payment app that customers are encouraged to download before dining at participating establishments. When the time comes to pay, diners send encrypted payments from their smartphones to the restaurant’s POS system. Servers are guaranteed at least a minimum gratuity from TabbedOut customers. The platform also gives businesses access to their customers’ order histories, preferences, and feedback. Restaurants can respond to feedback through the platform, resolving complaints before the customer has time to post on Facebook. Merchant costs vary depending on the size of the business, the location, and contract terms.

2. Dash: Quickly collect payments from diners in a hurry.
Dash is a platform that’s built for speed. Customers who download the company’s mobile app can settle their restaurant and bar tabs, even before they’ve been handed a check. Customers “open a tab” when they arrive at the business, and they can pay with their phones whenever they’re “ready to dash.” In addition to collecting faster payments, restaurants get access to analytics based on the data captured through Dash. In the coming months, Dash will be able to split bills and store gift card information. Bar and restaurant managers can contact Dash for specific pricing information.

3. MyCheck: Offer mobile payments without changing your existing POS system.
MyCheck is a mobile checkout app that diners can use to view their bills and pay their checks from their smartphones. Diners “check in” with MyCheck when they arrive at a participating restaurant, and they show a four-digital code on their smartphone screens to their servers. Once a server enters this code into the restaurant’s POS system, customers are able to view, split, and pay for their restaurant checks. Restaurants get paid within 24 to 48 hours via ACH credit. Restaurants aren’t charged any monthly fees or setup costs.

4. Elacarte: Give diners their own tablets to pay with.
Not every diner carries a smartphone or wants to download a mobile app to pay for his meal. Elacarte offers a solution that allows restaurants to collect mobile payments using special tablets (called Prestos) placed at each diner’s table. Customers use their tablets to order, flipping through a menu with large photos of each item. When it comes time to pay, customers swipe their credit cards through the tabletop Presto tablet. Elacarte says this results in table turnaround times that are seven minutes faster than industry averages. The company charges restaurants no upfront costs, with payment plans that vary based on the size of the business.

5. Storific: Let customers order ahead and pay before they arrive.
Since partnering with PayPal, Storific has developed a way for diners to locate, order, and pay for food — all before they’ve picked it up or eaten at the establishment. Consumers can look at menus and place their orders through Storific. When it comes time to pay, they can pay with a PayPal wallet. Storific sends a notification to diners when their orders are ready to be picked up. Participating restaurants also have the option to “pause” orders through Storific when they’re too busy to keep up. Storific says it only charges “the PayPal fee.”

6. Cover: Speed up table turnover with a smartphone app.
Focused primarily on restaurants in New York City, Cover has developed a mobile app that diners can use to pay their checks without waiting for a server. Diners who use the app can “create a table” when they arrive at participating restaurants and notify their servers that they’re paying with Cover. Users can set default tip amounts, to avoid doing calculations on the fly. Cover will also split users’ bills, which is something that some competing apps don’t offer. Restaurant owners can contact Cover for an estimate of the costs involved in participating.

Know of other tools that restaurants can use to accept mobile payments? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.