If the success of the Uber-like payments models have proven anything about consumer preference and mobile payments, it’s that consumers want a frictionless experience. And that they don’t want to think about payments as part of the transaction itself.
It's the reason the term "uberization" has become the buzzword of the payments industry.
PaidEasy is the latest innovation to throw its hat into the invisible payments experience – for restaurants and any personal service establishment.
“We are bridging the gap between mobile payments and invisible payments. Uber has set a gold standard when it comes to payments," PaidEasy CEO Gregg Jackowitz told PYMNTS in an exclusive interview. "Users want a frictionless experience; they want to walk in [to a restaurant, salon or dry cleaner] and walk out without having to wait or pull out a card. We have built our entire platform around that while also making sure that merchants don’t have to change their day-to-day operations.”
Using its proprietary technology that seamlessly integrates with merchants' existing POS without any extra steps, hardware or connector, Paid Easy is attempting to join the market as a "360-degree mobile payments platform" that takes the friction out of payments by making it invisible. While that tech allows for consumers to do things similar to other mobile payments apps — like split tabs and tip — the company differentiates itself by the functionality that allows customers to open a bill the minute they step in an establishment, which can be viewed at any time to check how much they've spent, and can be closed on demand.
It’s sort of magic.
Well, magic enabled by Beacons.
Because PaidEasy is also integrated with iBeacons, customers with the app can automatically open a “check” the minute they step foot in the door. That action then automatically syncs with the restaurant’s POS so the server can start adding items directly to the bill that are paid out in-app. Not only does the payment become frictionless, but the customer doesn't have to put any thought into actually starting that tab or even closing it (if a customer leaves without closing a tab, after 45 minutes, the bill is automatically closed out).
No more worrying about leaving that credit card behind at the bar.
PaidEasy is designed for the restaurant and bar scene, as well as the hotel, dry cleaners and hair/nail salons to bring consumers and establishments a way to pay that doesn't take any effort from either party. PaidEasy eliminates the need for a customer to dig for their wallet, but it also provides advanced security by encrypting the user’s credit cards within the app so payments details are tokenized and never shared with the merchant.
Jackowitz readily admits that there are some pretty big competitors in the space — like Pay with OpenTable, which allows users to book a table online and pay for the reservation using the app. But Jackowitz believes PaidEasy still has a niche that can't be found elsewhere. With OpenTable, users book a reservation, but PaidEasy is hoping to get the customers on the street who want to search for a nearby restaurant (which they can do via the app by proximity and reviews), and then use the app to pay.
"We're trying to dominate the walk-in market," he said.
The experience that PaidEasy is hoping to create is one in which those walk-in customers find a restaurant with the app, read reviews, and start that tab the moment they walk in, but they can walk out without even closing the tab. And for those customers who want to find a restaurant running a special that night, they can select from any number that restaurants may push out to PaidEasy users who can directly apply those offers in-app – no more worrying about scanning a QR code or mobile coupons.
"We've built the loyalty right in," he said. "We're trying to encompass everything you need all in one place."
The PaidEasy app also provides the customer the chance to provide feedback directly to the merchant. For example, if a customer has a bad experience, they can send in a review that goes straight to the merchant. The merchant then has the chance to reach back out to the reviewer and help redeem the situation personally. But the app doesn't just work from one side, it also provides the merchants the ability to connect back to its customers by sending a specific mobile coupon to users that can be targeted in a specific neighborhood.
And what about users who want to book a reservation while on the go? PaidEasy plans to partner with a waitlist management system so a user has the ability to check in with the waitlist as long as they are within a certain proximity to the establishment. They can also search restaurants nearby to see which ones or running specials for the night.
Currently, PaidEasy is in its invite-only Beta testing in New York City and Long Island, but it plans to roll out beyond its test market of 68 merchants by the end of May, with almost 30 venues in NYC alone on board. Its plan is to expand in strategic areas it feels the app will do well, as opposed to launching nationwide with any merchant that wants to join. And through its new strategic partnerships, PaidEasy said it's about to secure a deal that will allow processing fees to drop down to 2 percent — which is lower than most fees associated with cards.
Jackowitz said he came up with the concept for PaidEasy about four years ago, but it took until now for him to feel ready to launch. Part of the reason he wanted to wait was the fact that the consumer market didn’t seem quite ready for mobile payments. So he put the project on hold and let the market flesh out. While we might argue that most consumers still aren’t ready, Jackowitz said the addition of Apple Pay in the market gave him the confidence that consumers just might be ready to turn their devices into their wallets.
"Apple kind of brought a validity to the market, as they typically do, because they have such brand awareness and such loyal customers. But if they do something — regardless of what it is, their customers follow," Jackowitz said. "So with the release of Apple Pay, I thought it was time to get back into PaidEasy."
Even at that, Jackowitz still believes that PaidEasy has something that sets it apart from Apple Pay - turning the concept of mobile payments into an "invisible payment."
While Apple Pay sometimes still requires a tap on a terminal (for those merchants who don't integrate Apple Pay within their app), PaidEasy integrates the entire purchasing experience right in an app on the smartphone, and without costly upgrades to enable it. Even with Apple’s brand recognition, it’s struggling to get users to actually use Apple Pay as a regular payment option.
While Jackowitz doesn't believe most of the mobile payments apps have made a name for themselves, he hopes PaidEasy's seamless integration into POS systems will help it do just that – and move beyond restaurants in a way Jackowitz doesn’t believe has been done before.
Does this newcomer on the market have the right mix to spark a mobile payments interest? We’ll find out soon once it moves out of test mode.