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How often do your customers actually pay for a meal using cash? Chances are that, if you accept them, you process more card payments than cash in your foodservice business, and with new payment technologies constantly emerging, you can only expect this to continue to rise.

payment technologies contactless apple pay

The fact that customers are able to reach for their credit or debit cards when dining out may well mean they spend that little bit more than they may have planned, and the convenience of card spending has undoubtedly led to many an impromptu meal out when wallets and purses have been otherwise bare. Indeed, according to figures from the UK Cards Association, the amount spent on cards in restaurants rose 158 per cent from £8.6 billion in 2005 to £22.2 billion in 2014. More businesses than ever before now accept card payments, which has also contributed to increase in card spending in pubs – from £1 billion in 2005 to £5 billion in 2014. But it’s not just the convenience of the card that’s shaping our dining habits, as other payment technologies are paving the way for changes in the way our nation eats out too.

We’ve become very ‘brekkie’-happy

Contactless cards have come a long way since they were first introduced in 2007. The limit for contactless payment was raised to £30 in September last year and £2.6 billion was spent via contactless card payments in the first six months of 2015. It’s now far easier to pay by card when paying for small meals and snacks when customers don’t have any cash, and in addition to contactless cards in some places there is also the ability to use mobile payments such as Apple Pay, which is accepted by the likes of Costa Coffee, Starbucks and KFC.


A photo posted by starbucksuk (@starbucksuk) on

Now, correlation does not always imply causation, but as we revealed in our recent trends to watch in 2016 post, over 50 per cent of adults now eat out for breakfast on a regular basis, an increase of five per cent since 2014. The average spend per head is a modest £4.52, an amount that can easily be popped on a contactless card or paid via mobile app. Eating breakfast on the move is undoubtedly a growing trend that’s fuelled by time-poor, hungry commuters who crave convenience, but having easier ways to pay may well be playing a part. Consumers now need to worry less about having a few pounds in their pocket if they’ve missed their morning porridge, as making a breakfast purchase in just the tap of a card has become much easier.

We pick and choose when we queue

We’ve covered order-ahead and ‘pay at table’ dining solutions before on the Lockhart Catering blog, and it seems the technology is firmly taking a hold. Paypal’s technology allows customers to order ahead and pay at the table in places such as Prezzo and Wagamama, where you can also pay with Qkr! by MasterCard's MasterPass.


A video posted by wagamama_uk (@wagamama_uk) on

Another of the leading pay at table solutions is Flypay, available at Wahaca and Jamie’s Italian, and reportedly planned for use in Levi Roots’ soon to open Caribbean smokehouse. MyCheck offers a similar technology, and estimates that it saves seven minutes per table and promotes a higher restaurant loyalty rate through use of its branded apps.

We’re avoiding awkward moments

One common feature of pay at table solutions is the ability to split the bill without any ‘Oops, I forgot my purse’ moments, though there are plenty of other payment options to mitigate the awkwardness of situations like this. From bill-sharing apps through to mobile payments via text, paying a fair share of the bill has become far easier in recent years, which could well be contributing to more group dining opportunities. And as sharing dishes and communal-style dining concepts are only becoming more popular, it’s really important to customers that everyone in the party is able to pay their way.

We’re giving creative control back to the chef

While pre-payment apps cater particularly well for the time-poor who want to pre-order their food, there are emerging payment options that put the restaurants firmly in control. Leading the way is The Clove Club in Shoreditch, which was the first restaurant in Britain to introduce a ticketing system for its dinner service.


A photo posted by Clove (@thecloveclub) on

Wine can be paid for on the night, but the dishes themselves are paid for up front. Not only does this allow the kitchen manager to more accurately predict what stock they will need every evening, and protect against the cost of last minute cancellations and no shows, but it also hands over complete control to the chef. Customers don’t deliberate over what to choose from the menu, as it’s already decided for them and paid for long before they even arrive, saving plenty of time on the night too.

We’re tipping more

Another interesting impact of new payment technology on dining etiquette is the reported increase in tipping by those using mobile payments. This CNBC article outlines how mobile apps are encouraging diners to tip more generously, which app creators credit to their technology making the dining experience easier. It is perhaps just as likely that the tendency to tip more via mobile payment is due to the fact that people aren’t restricted by the amount of change in their pocket. For more information about tipping trends, check out our recent piece on the great tipping debate.

Do you use any newer payment technologies in your business? Have you found it has increased sales or tipping? Do you think pay at table solutions take away from the service experience? We’d love to hear your views so please comment below or join the conversation over on Twitter @BunzlLockhart.


Lockhart Catering on 15 February 2016 11:21 AM

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