Make sure to bring more than your appetite when you dine out in the 2020s, especially at a quick-service restaurant (QSR). You might end up ordering or paying with your face via facial recognition technology.
Payments are changing so rapidly that they can sometimes be hard to keep up, and that certainly holds true for QSRs. In a new PYMNTS interview, Andrew Robbins, co-founder and president at Paytronix Systems Inc., discussed the emerging payments coming to the QSR world, and what’s on tap for the coming year and new decade. In large part, it’s a story about phones and even biometrics.
Near-field communication (NFC) has emerged as an especially intriguing way for QSRs and other businesses to tie ordering and loyalty experiences to today’s mobile users’ needs. Customers are drawn to payment methods that take as little time as possible, which is why many have embraced methods that lack signature, PIN or credit card information requirements, and instead opt for quicker paths that mirror one-click ordering on eCommerce sites.
Paytronix is involved in a program that enables better loyalty program access via NFC, Robbins told PYMNTS. Assuming the consumer has a mobile device and uses Apple or Google, the technology can push a loyalty program sign-up offer — sometimes including pre-filled forms — via the person’s NFC-enabled phone.
“You tap on the message and join,” he said, adding that such QSR operators as Jimmy John’s, Panera and Yogurtland are using the technology for their loyalty programs. “If you are already a member, we link you with a new pass. When you tap to pay, your loyalty ID just comes across. You can get rid of the loyalty card. It’s a frictionless experience.”
In fact, Robbins said, so far they have seen higher QSR loyalty program participation when such programs are offered — especially for younger consumers who are more attracted to such mobile offerings. Not only that, but these types of mobile loyalty programs can increase store visit frequency by some 50 percent, he said.
View of the Future
As PYMNTS research has documented, NFC technology — also known as contactless payment technology — can provide the speedy experiences consumers desire, while also offering QSRs a wealth of personalized insights. NFC payments are available for both Apple Pay and Google Pay mobile wallets, and linking loyalty services to that technology can immediately benefit QSRs.
One study showed that consumers with access to NFC loyalty programs visit restaurants 60 percent more often — a sharp jump in both customer interaction and spending. NFC-enabled loyalty programs can thus lead to longer-lasting, more trusting relationships between QSRs and customers who already want to use mobile phones for one-touch payments.
Of course, as Robbins pointed out during the PYMNTS interview, QSR loyalty is not the only real or potential use for NFC in payments and commerce. Hotels could use the technology to enable check-ins, with guests then tapping their mobile devices on the room lock to enter.
“That’s a view of the future,” he said.
Another way the future is playing out in the world of QSRs is via facial recognition, Robbins said. Delivering personalized service is essential for any restaurant that aims to keep its customers loyal. This task gets increasingly challenging the more menu items and possible combinations an establishment offers.
Some restaurants, like Dallas-based Malibu Poke — which offers more than 63,000 possible order combinations for its Hawaiian-inspired poke bowls — are using facial recognition technology to allow customers to re-order their meals by glancing at self-service kiosks. Robbins listed QSR operations in Chicago and elsewhere that are also turning to this biometric authentication method to improve business and store processes, along with loyalty programs.
Indeed, from Starbucks to Dunkin’ and Chipotle Mexican Grill, QSRs are working to enhance their customers’ experiences through technology. Managers and diners alike often have favorable views of reward offerings. According to the PYMNTS Restaurant Readiness Index, the share of customers and managers who have positive views of loyalty programs is 80 percent. The Index also noted that 79.5 percent of QSR customers and 47.5 percent of QSR managers see loyalty programs as a feature that is important to a restaurant’s success.
The story told by all that data, and by Robbins, is one of quickening payments and commerce innovation in the QSR space, a trend that is almost certain to become even more intense in the coming few years.