Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Restaurants should embrace Apple Pay technology

While I was waiting for my new iPhone 6 to arrive, I may have been obsessed with checking the tracking number from FedEx. To say that I love tech gadgets is an understatement and if you were to ask my wife she would say that I love them more than her which is absolutely not true. With the release of the new iPhone we finally upgraded our antiquated Droid X's. In hindsight we probably should have made the switch much earlier given all the problems we experienced with our old phones but we decided to wait for all the promised new features in the iPhone 6. The one feature that I was especially excited about is the Apple Pay technology that allows customers to pay their bill virtually using their phone instead of sliding their credit card. I headed over to Panera Bread in Concord, the closest restaurant I could find that was iPay enabled to test this out.

My wife sat this one out as she thinks that I am one step away from identity theft and all the horrible ramifications from that. This did not phase me because Apple is using encryption to hide your credit card number until it reaches your credit card company. This also combines another amazing feature of the iPhone 6, a biometric system that uses your finger print to identify you and only you as the person that is authorizing a transaction. Of course there is always some concern with something new and different but it did not seem like a lot of risk given all the security measures that have been put into place by Apple.

So I ordered some bagels at Panera and everything was the same until it came time to pay. When I told the person taking the order that I wanted to use Apple Pay she looked at me with a blank stare. I started to think that I was wrong about the service being available. Thankfully, she asked one of her colleagues to assist and she came around the corner to help me with the process.

As she explained, all you need to do is hover your phone slightly above the unit while pressing the home button on your iPhone 6. This is at the very bottom of your phone and where you place your finger to authorize the payment using biometrics. Since your finger print is unique to you your phone recognizes this and authorizes the payment. After about five seconds a check mark appeared notifying all that the transaction had taken place and was completed. Then I went over and collected my bagels and left. Afterward, I checked my phone and like magic there was the transaction.

That was pretty painless I thought. But then I wondered where the receipt was and I didn't have one. Hmmmm..... I am assuming there is a way to have this emailed to you but I will have to figure that out next time. It wasn't anything that I really needed on this transaction anyway but it might be nice to have.

This is only the beginning and it will probably take awhile for this to catch on. For now from what I could read on the Apple website in terms of restaurant and other food establishments in addition to Panera there is McDonald's, Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Subway and hopefully a whole lot more to come. With the Apple name behind iPay it is hard for me to believe that this will not be successful.

But this brings up some other questions. How are table service restaurants going to get in on this easy pay phenomenon. There are tips to consider and where on earth would you put the machine that would link to your phone. On the table? They have sort of already done something like this at Pizzeria Uno. We had visited recently for the first time in I can't remember how many years. On the table is a small computer where you can play games and also slide your credit card to pay your bill. You can see this on the right hand side of the picture below

This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this at a restaurant. Why can't something like this be used for iPay? The way I envision this is that all restaurants would have something like this where you could pay yourself. I assume fine dining establishments wouldn't want a big machine on the middle of the table. Talk about killing a romantic dinner but maybe a computer chip could be used or something under the table that would work just as well.

Servers may be concerned because they don't want to see their tip reduced because of something they may no longer do for their customers. Personally I would not tip a waiter or waitress less if this technology were used. If the payment process was made easy and seamless this would save a lot of time and trouble on everyone’s part. Servers are very busy, this would allow them more time to focus on other things and handle more tables and one less thing to worry about.

I for one am totally on board with Apple Pay and believe that more restaurants should start moving their technology in this direction. It will take some time because any establishment that allows Apple Pay needs the hardware and software to make it happen. For those new restaurants or any upgrading their payment process this should be an easy decision. Make dining out more enjoyable for your customers and embrace Apple Pay.

If you are a restaurant or food related business and we missed you please let us know. We will let our readers know that Apple Pay is available at your location.