Online reservation service OpenTable starts testing mobile payments for diners to pay checks in-app

Online reservation service OpenTable starts testing mobile payments for diners to pay checks in-app

US-based online reservation service OpenTable has taken a huge step to stay ahead of its competition — the company has started testing mobile payments for diners to settle checks via its app, the New York Times reports.

The company is reportedly planning to roll out the payment system in San Francisco by the end of this year, and will expand from there.

This comes just a month after OpenTable spent $11 million to buy India-based mobile technology firm Just Chalo, which was in the process of developing a US-focused mobile payments app called Chalo.

The New York Times report cites OpenTable CEO Matthew Roberts as saying that the payment process will be “straightforward”. All a diner has to do is to access the OpenTable app and pay the bill by simply tapping a button, which allows him to review the check, make any tweaks to the tip, then pay the amount required.

Roberts reportedly acknowledges, however, that there are certain key problems to be solved before the payments feature goes live: one of them is to find a way to notify restaurant employees when a bill has been paid via the app, so a waiter does not think a diner is skipping the check if he pays via the phone, gets up and leaves.

OpenTable’s move into payments makes sense as it seeks to boost its offerings and attract more users to stay on top of the competition. Roberts tells the New York Times that OpenTable will not take a cut of each transaction made whenever a diner pays via the app, so the restaurant only has to pay the usual interchange fee for a credit card transaction.

Despite its position as the market-leading platform, OpenTable has continuously been hard at work to add value to its app — in January, it acquired restaurant finding and dish sharing app Foodspotting for $10 million in cash and in September 2012, the company teamed up with Foursquare to allow its users to make a reservation via the Explore tab inside the location-based app.

OpenTable, which currently works with more than 28,000 restaurants, makes money by charging restaurants for reservations made via its service, as well as a monthly service charge for using its equipment.

Headline image via Thinkstock

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