Digital Payments Reshape Restaurants

New restaurant payment technology is helping diners and restauranteurs have their cake—and eat it too. 

August 2022

<p>Digital Payments Reshape Restaurants</p>

Ecommerce and mobile payments are driving the restaurant industry forward in a hurry. Fast, friction-free experiences are winning customer loyalty and helping revive the industry from the lull brought about by COVID-19.

On the flip side, digital holdouts have sometimes been left wondering where their patrons went and if they’re ever going to return.

Whether you’re thinking over your options or already using some form of digital payments, we want to share five ways digital payment trends are creating a brighter—and tastier—future for restaurant owners who aren’t afraid to plug in.

1. Contactless Payments

According to Back of House, mobile payment usage in the United States rose by over 40% from 2018 to 2019. The National Retail Federation reports an impressive 67% of U.S. retailers are now accepting at least one contactless payment method. That number appears to be even higher abroad. According to Visa, 75% of payments made in European stores are contactless.

This has been made possible by evolving digital payment technology, mobile payment solutions, and related advancements like QR codes, digital menus, and near-field communication tools that allow tap to pay and other quick, cashless checkouts at the point of sale.

Take Clover®, for example. Their Gateway solutions help small and large businesses accept mobile payments and other contactless options. These easy-to-use virtual payment terminals simplify sales with both online and brick-and-mortar services. Plus, they make it easy to switch to handheld and tabletop POS systems for a host of payment options.

You should also be thinking about adding real-time transaction management. Features like invoicing capabilities, hosted payment pages, comprehensive security with payment card industry (PCI) compliance, and other state-of-the-future services can help speed up B2B and B2C payments on the back end, so you can spend more time focusing on what’s happening in the kitchen. Learn more about Clover’s point-of-sale options.

To the delight of diners, restaurant QR code technology, like QR code menus, makes eating out even more flexible. Replacing physical menus with a QR code menu enables many customers to use their phone to order. Scan the code with a phone camera to bring up a contactless menu and pay from the table or by text with mobile wallets—no server required.

Self-serve kiosks at fast casual restaurants enable customers to pay and order with the same level of convenience. They transform handheld POS systems into freestanding machines with a digital menu, improving table turn times and keeping staff members safe.

When it comes to moving money across the table, P2P—or peer to peer—payments are the way to go, but point-of-sale solutions like Clover are keeping customers' phones in their pockets by letting restaurants digitally split the bill. Diners have their choice of pre-set tip amounts with applicable tax rates automatically calculated. And many of Clover’s devices have LTE network capability at the payment terminal, so even if the Wi-Fi is down, profits are still up.

For help with your digital payments, visit our Restaurant Industry Payment Solutions center. We’ll pair you with the right digital payment solution to boost your business.

2. Ecommerce Payments & Online Points of Sale

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about some significant concerns for diners. Now they’re hoping to enjoy their local favorites, new eateries, even ghost kitchens, without having to worry about whether or not their health is at risk. That means many full-service restaurants are looking to expand their ecommerce footprint by offering online ordering for pickup, curbside takeout, and delivery.

In the ecommerce space, debit card and credit card transactions are still an equal part of the consumer experience. Restaurants accepting mobile payments can give customers the option of traditional credit or debit. This favors the difficult-to-reach digital holdouts and lends a hand to younger, cash-strapped consumers who prefer debit cards.

Order-ahead on mobile shaves down wait times, as does drive-thru food and the option to pay with cards already on file. This way diners can limit their exposure with friction-free POS experiences. Services likes apps and retooled websites that feature generous rewards programs encourage customer engagement, inviting new customers to become regulars.

Subscription-based models make it possible to get online orders of prepared menu items and essentials like groceries delivered right to your door—same time, same day, every week, every month. It’s up to you.

3. Integrated Payments

APIs, or application program interfaces, are aligning restaurant owners with customers and their banks in entirely new and exciting ways.

APIs are software go-betweens that open a direct line for two separate applications. They allow a device to communicate directly with merchant services, and merchant services to communicate directly with financial services. This creates a pathway known as “embedded banking.”

This connection lets money flow easily and quickly from online payments and wireless points of sale straight to bank accounts. So, when a diner taps to pay or scans a QR code at the end of the meal, the restaurant is getting that money much faster—and not just because the waiter doesn’t have to walk to the kitchen to scan a card.

In fact, in a time when hiring and keeping staff is a unique challenge, this technology makes it possible to do more with less.

Miss the old days when regulars could put a drink or meal on their tab? Some restaurants are using APIs to offer diners the opportunity to BNPL (or Buy Now Pay Later). This point-of-sale lending used to only happen with familiar faces, but now it’s one of the best ways to create the same kind of recurring customer relationship with occasional diners and first-timers alike.

4. Digital Currencies & Digital Wallets

That’s right, money is going digital and so are our wallets. While apps like Apple Pay®, Google Pay®, and Samsung Pay® are replacing credit cards and creating more convenience at the checkout, they're also increasing the distance between us and our money. And rising popularity in cryptocurrency is making the money market more uncertain than ever.

In an ideal American economy, the U.S. dollar stays steady. Its fundamental value anchors our everyday transactions. It’s one way we communicate worth and importance. After all, cash is king.

Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are decentralized, meaning they’re not regulated by any bank and have little to no payment security. The value of crypto swings wildly. And that’s enough to make almost anyone lose their appetite.

A restaurant owner can avoid paying banking fees and potentially profit simply by accepting different forms of cryptocurrency. But they can also lose—and lose big—when the value of digital assets dip. So, it remains to be seen if crypto will stabilize to the point of being a viable currency for the average business. All but the most adventurous and forward-thinking are sticking with the house special: the American dollar.

5. Digital Security & Fraud Prevention

With financial uncertainty the norm at home and abroad, increased digital security and fraud prevention is a must for any business. Especially one with notoriously razor-thin margins.

Most restaurants are enjoying advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning in the same way businesses in other sectors are. As biometric and multi-layer authentication improve, so do revenues. That’s because the chance for fraud at point of sale goes down when you take advantage of these advancements by keeping your technology up to date.

Consumers also feel more at ease opening their digital wallets when they know their money is safe, even if they can’t see it. Fingerprint scanning, along with voice and face identification, offer an intimate and immediate promise that data is secure. And that makes all the difference in a world where data is crème de la crème.

If that’s a lot to chew on, don’t worry. Our experts can help you sort out the world of digital payments and find the cutting-edge solution that’s right for you.

Visit a local branch or call to talk to your banker about new advancements in payment technology. We can get you up to speed with fast, friction-free transactions and a doggie bag with all the hardware you’ll need to make it happen.

Find out how Key Merchant Services can help your business accept payments with speed and security.

Interested in hearing more about the latest trends or additional services? Have us call you.

All merchant services, credit, loan and leasing products are subject to credit approval and terms of service.

The Clover® name and logo are owned by Clover Network, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data corporation, and are registered or used in the U.S. and many foreign countries.

Apple Pay is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Google Pay is a trademark of Google LLC. 

Samsung Pay is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

KeyBank is Member FDIC.

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