Invisible Payments: Making Dining and Dashing Acceptable

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By Chris Francis, Vice President of Market Development at Worldpay US

While dining and dashing has always been frowned upon, some of the latest innovations in the payments space are making it easier than ever before for consumers to dine and pay without having to wait around for their checks. Following a business model similar to Uber, OpenTable, the widely-known restaurant reservation app, has updated its technology to include invisible payments. With OpenTable Pay, diners at participating restaurants can now view and pay their checks at the click of a button. Credit card information is also stored within the app, so diners don’t have to enter it each time they dine out, or even bring their wallets along.

OpenTable competitor Reserve is taking invisible payments a step further by enabling users to not only pay for meals via the app, but also invite other diners to seamlessly split the check. Invisible payments and split payments have already taken off with ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. Now, invisible payments may see the same adoption with restaurants as they have with ridesharing.

Meet expectations for convenience

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to convenience and having the option to make payments on their own terms when interacting with brands across industries. In fact, according to Worldpay’s “Why Do They Pay That Way” study, when shoppers are forced to pay with non-preferred payment types, they’re more likely to abandon a transaction  – more than one in four (26 percent) will not make the purchase.

Consumer demand for convenient payment options is part of the reason why ridesharing and Uber’s payment model have been so attractive. It can offer the simplicity and ease consumers value. Once a payment form is set up in the app, users don’t have to scan their credit cards or search their wallets for cash each time they hail a cab. And this convenience is starting to shape the way consumers expect all their payments to be – whether shopping in-store, dining at a restaurant, sending a payment to a friend, or completing any other type of transaction.

Restaurant customers in particular dine out for the experience. Whether at a diner or five-star restaurant, customers want their needs to be catered to in every aspect of the dining experience – even when paying the bill. Restaurants owners should therefore make it a priority to provide a convenient customer experience from the beginning to end of the dining experience – including checkout. This can be done by periodically evaluating all potential options when it comes to implementing payment systems that put the control into the diners’ hands, and choose the option that is easiest and best for them. For some customers, the preferred method might be paying via traditional check, while others may prefer invisible payments.

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Emphasizing the user experience

In a way, invisible payments can make payments a more integrated, intuitive part of the user experience. The best user experience removes as many pain points as possible no matter the location of the user or the brand they’re interacting with. One restaurant tapping into invisible payments to improve the user experience is The Cheesecake Factory. Using MasterCard’s new payment solution, MasterPass, and its branded app CakePay, The Cheesecake Factory is offering customers the option of saving payment information, so after the meal, diners can easily review and split the bill.

CakePay, OpenTable Pay and Reserve are all trying to eliminate the inconvenience diners often face when trying to pay the bill. If, for example, the restaurant is particularly crowded or short-staffed, diners might finish their meals and end up waiting several minutes to receive their checks, then again to finalize payment. Check splitting presents another potential challenge. While some restaurants set a limit on the number of payment forms accepted  – for example, two credit cards maximum  – others might leave customers spending time crunching numbers and writing down totals on the back of the check to split the bill. With CakePay and Reserve, customers don’t have to wait for the check, can pay at the click of a button – including the tip – and can easily split the check, whether they decide to do so evenly or based on items ordered.

A related option is Split. Using Split, diners can view, pay and split the bill directly from their smartphones, saving an average of eight minutes per table. As an added convenience for restaurants, Split requires customers share a rating of the experience following each payment – and the information is kept confidential between the customer and the restaurant. This can help restaurants have a better understanding on the customer experience and diners’ opinions on available payment options. Split also frees up time for wait staff, as they no longer have to take the time to print checks, run credit cards or split checks on behalf of diners.

In addition to CakePay, OpenTable Pay, Reserve and Split, another form of invisible payments, Google Handsfree, is being rolled out in restaurants and stores. Google Handsfree enables users to store payment information, a selfie and first and last initials within the platform. Then, once in-store or at a restaurant, customers can simply walk up to cashier and say they wish to pay using Google Handsfree, and the cashier can easily match customers to their stored information. Google is already testing this technology at select McDonalds and Papa John’s locations, enabling diners to save time at drive-throughs and in long fast food lines.

Invisible payments have the potential to solve various customer pain points, even in the dining industry, by providing a simple and convenient method of payment. By providing these alternative and flexible payment options, restaurants can deliver a more seamless dining experience that could lead to increased diner loyalty and long-term customer relationships.

0715 chris francis webinarAbout the Author

Chris Francis is Vice President of Market Development at Worldpay US, a global payments provider for all channels: in-store, online and via mobile. To learn more, visit

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