Dash: Changing Payments One Bar Tab At A Time

by Michael Patrick McSweeney (@mpmcsweeney)

Anyone who has ever been inside a bar or restaurant knows the familiar ritual of waiting for the bill to arrive. Once it does, after a seemingly endless wait, patrons must then undergo delicate negotiations about who’s paying for what. Then, the bill is sent off for one last go-around at the register before coming back for a final signature. In some cases, patrons might be left thinking they were running a triathlon rather than paying for a martini.

While the above example may border on the melodramatic, it’s common knowledge that the worst part about visiting a bar or restaurant is clearing out the tab. And it’s this necessary but lengthy process is exactly what Jeff McGregor, co-founder of Dash, is aiming to revolutionize.

Dash is a pay-and-go mobile app geared specifically toward customers of bars and restaurants. With a growing network of participating establishments in New York City, the app enables users to make simple payments, split up tabs and avoid long waits. As McGregor explained in an exclusive interview with PYMNTS, a problematic payments process goes beyond merely frustrating the occasional patron (Jump To: 3:00).

“If it’s frustrating for you, the patron, to have to wait to close your tab, or your leaving your credit card behind, the merchant is dealing with 30 or 40 or 50 times a night. And that’s creating huge amounts of inefficiency in their operation, which is resulting in lost revenues,” McGregor said.

Dash was created after a fateful brunch on New Years Day in New York City. McGregor, with Dash co-founder Gennady Spirin, found themselves in the all-familiar trap of waiting to pay their tab (Jump To: 4:40).

“We were out on New Year’s Day in 2011 for brunch, and we were just really frustrated that we couldn’t get our server’s attention and we wanted to leave. And at that point, it was a really new idea, there were no other products currently on the market. It seemed simple that we should be able to hit pay on our phone and walk out,” he said.

McGregor acknowledged the challenges of user acceptance and mobile security. However, he said that the market’s indifference to mobile ordering – as well as concerns about credit card fraud and consumer protection – presented an opportunity to create new payments solutions that are both consumer and merchant-friendly (Jump To: 6:30).

“The really interesting part about the industry is that there’s no larger security hole than a server that’s being paid below minimum wage and then having them walk away with that credit. So we’re trying hard to instill a sense of security in Dash,” McGregor said.

To learn more about how Dash is trying to change the mobile payments paradigm one drink and appetizer order at a time, listen to the full interview below.



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