This article was published on March 24, 2011

TabbedOut: Mobile payments for your night out

TabbedOut: Mobile payments for your night out
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

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If you’re in the mobile payments space, it’s a crowded market. How do you set yourself apart? You focus on industries that make sense. As our mobile phones become more like our identification each day (think of all of the information stored on your phone, then contrast that to your physical ID), we’re more likely to walk out of the house and forget our wallet than our phone.

So you’re at the bar, you’re getting drinks and you suddenly realize that you’ve forgotten your wallet. It’s a bit difficult for you to pay for those drinks, suddenly, and you’ve found yourself a problem.

Rick Orr, the CEO of TabbedOut, wants to solve your problem. So far, the company is doing a great job of that. Using direct and social marketing, plus a guerilla approach to marketing itself, TabbedOut has made a name for itself in the hospitality industry.

In 69 cities in the US, across 20 states, you can go out with nothing more than your mobile device to make your payments. A credit card is attached to your TabbedOut account (the app is free, for Android and iPhone) and if you’re at a TabbedOut business, all you have to do is log in and pay your tab directly through the app.

The idea that Orr has is that we shouldn’t have to hand over our cards anymore. With hospitality being the 3rd-largest GDP around the world, the market is one that’s begging for some disruption. With a 5-minute installation (on supported point-of-sale systems), Orr can deploy TabbedOut to a business seamlessly.

TabbedOut is actually in its second year of life, having been launched for the iPhone in January of 2010, then for Android in March of the same year. With Orr living in the bar-heavy city of Austin, Texas, he was in the perfect area to see if TabbedOut could work.

And work it has. Orr and the TabbedOut team are continuing to roll out the system in new cities and you can keep up with the locations on the TabbedOut site, or within the app itself.

Sure, TabbedOut could be used for other things too. But according to Orr, it is the app’s micro-focus on the hospitality industry that makes it so ideal. Instead of being the last person in your booth at TGI McFunsters, waiting for your card to come back, you could be halfway to your car with your friends.

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