OpenTable: “Give us your hungry, your cashless in San Francisco

How fitting for gastro-glorious San Francisco that the City by the Bay will be the first test location for OpenTable’s foray into the mobile-payment realm.

Matthew Roberts, the CEO of the restaurant-reservation service that has become de rigueur for many frequent diners, told The New York Times Bits tech blog that when dessert and coffee are  done,  the patron will be able to crank up his or her OpenTable smartphone app, check the bill, and then settle the score right then and there, no fuss, no muss, no cash, no credit card.

And it’s all going to make its debut right here in all of our favorite close-by restaurants!

It  seems inevitable that OpenTable, whose 28,000 restaurants partners globally make it the world’s largest service of its kind, would be the first to add on a mobile-payment feature. The website and app can already scour a city in real-time for dining possibilities, check out an eatery’s website,  prices and diner reviews,  then make a reservation with a few simply clicks.  Using OpenTable to finalize the back-end of that process and pay for the feast is a no-brainer.

Or, as Roberts told the Times, a third-grader could figure out the new feature with one hand, but preferably not his eating hand, tied behind his back:


“There’s no scanning, there’s no bar codes, there’s no geeky stuff.”

Good. Because the last thing we need in San Francisco these days is more “geeky stuff.”

Here’s how it would work, the Bits report explained:

The restaurant would be charged the typical interchange fee for a credit card transaction. The simple transactions through the app are another way to attract people to use OpenTable, which charges restaurants for reservations made through the service as well as a monthly service charge for using its equipment.

OpenTable gave us a big fat hint last June that it was up to something. Like a sort of appetizer for this whole story, it  paid $11 million in stock to acquire JustChalo, a tech outfit that was coming up with a payments app for restaurants. The Times said that pilot program was still ongoing in  about two dozen restaurants.


So when will we be able to start leaving our wallets in the car when we go out to eat? OpenTable says it will unveil the mobile-payment feature in  San Francisco by the end of the year, and then expand it elsewhere.

Sorry, New York and Boston and Chicago and Miami… you’ll just have to wait for the check.





Share this Post