The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 09, 2012 • Issue 12:04:01
Wireless payments at the restaurant table
As pay-at-the-table restaurant programs gain steam, so do options that eliminate the need for patrons to relinquish credit or debit cards for processing elsewhere in an establishment. New off the launch pad is RAIL, the first product release from Viableware, a provider of restaurant communication solutions led by a veteran team from the restaurant industry in conjunction with the technology team from Synapse Product Development.
RAIL is a patented wireless digital payment folio that has the look and feel of the traditional bill presentment folder used in most restaurants, but unlike the original, RAIL permits guests to self-swipe credit or debit cards at the table. With a touch of a finger, guests can split the bill, auto-calculate tips and direct email receipts, all without the card ever leaving the table. An LED light atop the folder signals to table servers when the bill has been paid.
Being able to streamline the payment process, which RAIL is designed to do, means restaurants can turn tables more quickly, potentially generating more revenue. RAIL also provides a digital platform for third-party advertising and cross-selling. Because it automatically tracks consumer use and tallies reward point incentives, customer loyalty and gift card programs are easily managed, the company stated.
"Maintaining a close relationship with your frequent customers is far easier and more effective with this type of technology at work in the restaurant," said Joseph Snell, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Viableware. "Restaurants can now communicate with their patrons in a way never available to them in the past. Presenting the bill can now double as an opportunity to offer each guest a short satisfaction survey, an option to donate to a cause or an invitation to join in a rewards program."
RAIL also opens revenue sharing opportunities, Snell said. "For example, with RAIL in place, a restaurant can market locally with third-party businesses, like a nearby movie theater, to offer guests discount tickets to that evening's show," he noted. "The guest could purchase the tickets directly from the RAIL by swiping their card - and a commission could be earned for the restaurant."
In an industry in which card skimming can be a problem, a system like RAIL, which encrypts card data at the point of swipe and allows the card to remain in the possession of cardholders, looks like a step in the right direction. RAIL reportedly integrates with existing POS systems, enabling restaurants to accept credit and debit card, near field communication, Europay/MasterCard/Visa chip and PIN, mobile and online payments.
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