Wagamama looks to reduce walk outs with Uber-style payment app

Jane Ryan

21 March 2018

Restaurant chain Wagamama has launched a new app that could revolutionise the way bar and restaurant customers pay their bills, and potentially put an end to people walking out without paying.

The app, which uses Mastercard’s technology, works like Uber by storing card details and making an automatic payment once the meal is over. Diners are given a code as they enter the restaurant which pairs with the till and keeps track of everything ordered. Friends can join a table and check-out when they want and once everyone is finished customers can select to split by item or amount, or simply get up and leave, after which an automatic payment goes through. No more hopelessly trying to catch a waiter’s eye.

Asking for the bill, waiting for it to arrive and going through the payment process, Wagamama estimates, takes on average 12 minutes per customer. Time their customers don’t always have. Smaller items can be ordered through the app, but not main courses.

‘We wanted to make the dining experience easier and still retain the interaction of the waiter because we didn’t want a restaurant full of people ordering food on their mobile devices and not enjoying the experience,’ said Wagamama’s chief information officer Richard Tallboy.

The implications of technology like this in hospitality could mean good news for bars dealing with customers walking out before paying on busy, crowded nights where floor staff can’t keep an eye on all their tables.

‘We can adapt this technology to any kind of restaurant and Wagamama is the first to use it in this way, allowing customers to order from phones, and simply walk away,’ said Jennifer Macrae, vice president of product innovation at Mastercard.

In the past two years alone, hospitality has been revolutionising the way guests book tables. In the case of fine-dining restaurants such as The Clove Club in London or Chicago’s Alinea, this means paying for everything before they set foot in the venue.

Wagamama says it believes the app won’t see a decrease in staff tips because guests are still required to order the majority of their food through waiters. Instead the app is aimed at saving people time when they are ready to leave.

The Wagamama Go app is available to download now for both iOS and Adriod.

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