There’s no shortage of companies trying to come up with high-tech ways for consumers to pay the check using their mobile phone.
OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service acquired recently by Priceline, said today its solution is rolling out in New York City, and that it has plans to be in 20 additional cities by year-end, including Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia. It was first piloted in San Francisco, where it continues to operate.
OpenTable is betting that its mobile payments offering will gain traction because it has very little friction — no additional apps to download, no barcodes to scan, or table numbers to enter. Once diners download the original OpenTable app, and enter their payment information, they can make a reservation; view the bill; and pay at anytime.
Once a diner pays, the restaurant can see on their end it’s been paid, and the diner can leave. A receipt is sent via email.
It’s not clear what happens if you want to use a different credit card, or if you want to split the check with a friend, or if you didn’t make a reservation, but with most of these launches, it’s typically form them to roll out with limited functionality and add features over time.
Of course, one of the big reasons why OpenTable’s solution is worth noting is because it already has the relationships with the restaurants.
“Just as we solved the pain of booking a reservation, we have a tremendous opportunity to solve the pain of settling the check,” said OpenTable’s CEO Matt Roberts, in a statement. “We have millions of diners actively booking reservations on our mobile apps and technology in more than 31,000 restaurants.”
Still, OpenTable is going up against a number of other large entrants including PayPal, Groupon, Square and Amazon, which is reportedly working on building out a similar service. There’s several other startups, too, like Dash and TabbedOut that want to fill this niche.
With all of these services, the incentive for both restaurant owners and diners to adopt them is speed. If consumers leave the restaurant faster, it frees up more tables to make more money. And, for consumers, they don’t have to wait for the check or the waiter to return with your credit card. It also provides some extra security — your credit card never leaves your wallet.
Still, efforts by similar companies have been slow to adopt. Some services require an awkward moment where you hand over your phone to the waiter for a barcode to be scanned; others require too many hoops to jump through, like downloading new apps, or making sure your payment information is up to date.
Restaurants that are interested in providing OpenTable’s service can learn more about participating here.