Because waiting for the check stinks. Tabbedout, a startup backed by $5.75 million from NEA and others, has been developing a platform that allows bar and restaurant customers to pay for their tab using their smartphone. Today, the company is announcing a partnership with Point-of-Sale (POS) system maker Harbortouch which will allow it to sizably increase its footprint in the space.
The two companies have joined forces to deliver an integrated solution that’s being installed on all the new Harbortouch Hospitality POS deployments in the future, as well as integrated into existing terminals. The vendor has a presence in over 10,000 locations across the U.S.
Though to the consumer, it may seem like it should be simple enough to just start paying for things in the offline world with your phone, there’s a reason why no entity has yet to establish itself as a leading mobile wallet application yet. The reality is that moving payment processing from credit cards to apps and/or chipsets is actually fairly challenging, and that situation is not helped by the fragmented ecosystems of handheld devices and their various mobile operating system versions.
And then there’s all those point-of-sale systems to think of. To reach TabbedOut’s target market, it’s a tough path. There are a number of POS systems in use today, and they’re often legacy technology. In order to reach these customers, TabbedOut has had to focus on integrations. It has both partnered and integrated with Micros, Aloha, Future, Focus, Dinerware, Digital Dining, and Jumpware over the past couple of years.
TabbedOut has also had to take a careful approach to security, given it’s dealing with customers’ payment information. Though arguably technology-based solutions tend to be more secure than physically handing over your credit card to the poor college student taking your order, that’s not how the average American perceives the situation.
Personal and financial data within TabbedOut’s mobile apps is securely encrypted on device, as opposed to the company’s servers, and is locked under passphrase protection. Restaurant patrons give their server a code the app displays, then they order normally. Because of the POS integrations, when customers are ready to leave, they simply have to launch the app and pay their bill. The app also makes it easy to split a check among friends, and allows the restaurant to target its customers with personalized offers.
When TabbedOut completed its Series A in May 2011, it had 200 restaurants in 90 cities. Prior to the agreement with Harbortouch, it had 1,100 merchants on the platform, and now it will have 10,000. However, TabbedOut today declined to provide details as to how broadly deployed its technology is today, in terms of customers using the system, or to what extent its prior partnerships have allowed it to expand its footprint.