After a 20 venue test run in San Francisco, Priceline’s OpenTable app is poised to go nationwide.
Restaurants are becoming an increasingly popular target for those hoping to ignite mobile payments. That’s because, unlike a typical shopping experience—where the difference between paying by phone or card is marginal—app-based payments used while eating can add convenience.
“For merchants and for consumers, there really hasn’t been a compelling reason yet to adopt mobile payments,” Forrester Research analyst Denee Carrington told The Wall Street Journal. “With dining, there’s a real possibility of speeding up the process for both diners and the restaurant with just your smartphone.”
Priceline purchased OpenTable earlier this year for $2.6 billion in the hopes of leveraging that convenience into profit. They are not the only ones—PayPal, Groupon, and an ever-expanding list of increasingly specialized start-ups are also rushing into the market.
“The promise here is avoiding the hassle of leaving a restaurant at the end of a meal,” said OpenTable CEO Matt Roberts, according to The Journal. “With this product, you can leave when you want, no more flagging down the waiter, no more filing out the check. You just leave.”
Although there are individual vairations on the service, the basis theme is that diners enter their payment card number into the app, which tracks their tabs. When the meal is over, users square up the bill on their phone and leave.
OpenTable expects to expand its service to Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia amount 20 other American cities. The service will also be soon announcing 45 New York restaurants that will be allowing users to pay with the service.
Currently, Roberts says that the payments app is not profitable, though he hopes it will be in the not-too-distant-future. How they might do that will be on discussion at PYMNTS Summer School. OpenTable’s Kashyap Deorah (general manager for payments) will be running a live case with Harvard professor Ben Edleman on OpenTable’s evolution from reservation service to mobile commerce platform.