May 13, 2013

Uber-inspired eating

Posted by: in North America

As we note in our recent report on mobile trends, payments will start getting pushed to the back of consumer experiences as apps enable customers to purchase and pay easily, enjoying a seamless experience. Taxi service Uber is the most high-profile and oft-cited example. Now, several apps are aiming to bring this experience to diners and bar patrons.

MyCheck launched in Israel—where the company says it’s accepted at hundreds of locations, including a large café chain—and is looking to expand, starting with New York City. Users check in to a participating venue upon arrival, receiving a code that they give to a waiter (or other relevant person), syncing their phone with the establishment’s system; before leaving, they use the app to pay for as much of the bill they want to cover. Still in private beta, New York-based Cover has a similar focus; its founders say the idea was inspired by Uber. Square is also in this space, as well as TabbedOut, which emphasizes the potential for merchants to collect data that will enable more personalized service. At the same time, fast food chains including KFC (in the U.K. and Ireland) and Five Guys (in the U.S.) are creating their own apps that enable seamless payment via the mobile device.

While consumers have been slow to adopt the mobile wallet, they’re more likely to embrace payment apps that remove clear hassles (e.g., waiting for and dividing up the check, standing in line to pay) and enable efficiency. On the merchant side, such apps will enable Predictive Personalization—i.e., fine-tuned offers and messaging—via the data they collect on users’ habits and preferences.

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