The last few years have seen widespread technology integration in the front-of-house for restaurants, with QR code menus, self-service kiosks, and even autonomous food delivery vehicles, such as the Pizza Hut robots that were roaming the sidewalks in parts of Canada last year. With all of this technology implementation, it begs the question: what’s next in the payments realm? Will it be business as usual, or will customers soon pay for their meals with a scan of their palms?
As one article recently stated, cash was a casualty of the pandemic. While contactless payment was gaining momentum pre-pandemic, it saw rapid adoption in 2020 owing to fears of COVID-19 contagion, and digital wallets quickly became the norm. A 2022 report from Payments Canada highlighted the continued acceleration in digital, contactless, and mobile payment adoption. Almost one quarter (22%) of Canadians said they are comfortable making payments using QR codes, and 37% of Canadians expressed comfort using fingerprint, facial, or voice recognition to authenticate a payment transaction.
The contactless payment revolution
Contactless payment has gained significant popularity in the foodservice and hospitality sector, as with other industries. This type of tech goes beyond online ordering—it enables diners to pay for their meals conveniently using a smartwatch or smartphone.
Merchants are turning to software-only point-of sale (SoftPOS) systems that utilize near-field communication (NFC) technology to tap into this demand for contactless payment. NFC technology allows customers to make secure and fast payments by simply tapping their contactless credit cards, debit cards, or mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet) on the restaurant’s NFC-enabled mobile device. This means that a restaurant can turn a mobile phone into a secure and efficient payment terminal, eliminating the need for dedicated hardware like traditional card readers.
The benefits of SoftPOS systems and NFC technology
Mobile point-of-sale technology has many advantages for restaurant operators, staff, and customers.
With half of Canadian restaurants operating at a loss or just breaking-even, many owners are being careful about where they spend their money. SoftPOS offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional point-of-sale terminals by eliminating the need for extra hardware such as standalone payment terminals, saving restaurants money on equipment and maintenance. SoftPOS systems also integrate with the restaurant’s existing ordering and billing software, streamlining the entire process from order placement to payment reconciliation. This integration reduces manual errors and saves time for staff.
To ensure the security of payment data during transmission, SoftPOS systems use advanced encryption and tokenization. This helps to mitigate the risk of card skimming and fraudulent activities. With this added layer of security, customers can confidently enjoy their dining experience while businesses safeguard their operations, ensuring peace of mind for all parties involved.
SoftPOS systems allow restaurant staff to process orders and payments directly at the table, without having to go back and forth to a traditional POS terminal. This also gives businesses the flexibility to accept payments in settings where traditional POS terminals might not be practical, such as a food truck.
For customers, this means that rather than having to wait for the server to return with the payment terminal, they can pay immediately by tapping on the mobile phone the server is carrying. Reduced wait times and a seamless payment process ultimately help to improve the overall dining experience and keep customers coming back.
Another technology that is likely to gain traction in restaurants is the use of biometrics payment systems. This cutting-edge technology enables customers to make secure payments by simply scanning their palm, eliminating the need for physical cards or devices. By leveraging the unique biometric characteristics of an individual’s palm, this payment system ensures a high level of authentication, convenience, and security for users.
Amazon recently announced that its palm payment technology, Amazon One, is expanding to all U.S. Whole Foods stores by the end of the year. This means that American shoppers will no longer need their wallets or even their phones to pay—they can simply hold their palm over a reader device. It won’t be long before this type of technology is rolled out in Canada as demand for convenient and contactless payment rises.
The future of restaurant payments
What this all points to is an increasingly connected restaurant space in the future that provides a more seamless experience for both customers and merchants alike. With the growing demand for contactless payment solutions due to their speed and ease of use, SoftPOS will continue to gain popularity, and widespread adoption of biometrics payment systems will offer a more secure payment experience for all. As technology develops, payments will continue to be simplified.
It’s essential for restaurants to understand all of the payment options out there, and if operators want to stay ahead, they must invest in digital payment solutions. By embracing NFC payments, restaurants can effectively cater to the preferences of tech-savvy individuals and encourage repeat business, a crucial factor in boosting long-term profitability. It’s time to tap into the future.