We’ve all been there. You’ve just enjoyed a great meal with your friends and it’s time to pay the bill.
All of a sudden, you have trouble digesting the food, as you fret about how you’re going to split the check six ways. Out come the calculators on everyone’s phones to figure out the total.
I don’t know about you, but I hate it.
It’s even worse if you have a George Costanza in your group, who stiffs everyone else on the bill. And the chances are, your server won’t chase you down in the parking lot because the cheapskate ended up paying squat, thus knocking your previously generous tip down to zero.
It’s happened to me (I wasn’t the culprit!) – and it’s as embarrassing as it sounds.
Luckily, ATX Innovation is looking to make sure this never happens again, with a free Android and iPhone application that brings mobile payments to the service industry.
Track, Split, Pay and Tip… All in One App
TabbedOut is a smartphone application that allows you to open and close your own restaurant or bar tab.
All you do is open a tab through the app. It then generates a unique code that you share with your server. When you’re ready to go, just pay the bill through the app. Your credit card information is stored directly on your phone – no plastic required – and the minimum tip (set by the restaurant) is automatically included.
You can easily split the check, too, which means no more dirty looks when you ask for separate checks, or when you hand over six different credit cards for one bill.
And if you forget to pay your bill before you leave? No problem. The app reminds you to pay before the establishment closes, or just pays the balance automatically. That way, you don’t need to worry about forgetting your credit card at the bar (and incurring the dreaded 30% charge, too).
Better yet, it solves a problem that Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology faces as it goes mainstream: the necessity to be “near” the register to complete a transaction. (Unless you don’t mind handing your phone to the server in order to scan the NFC chip.)
So TabbedOut is a win-win for the service industry and consumers alike. But like all mobile payment platforms, it raises the obvious question: How secure is it?
Security is “Front of Mind” for ATX
The short answer is: About as secure as it can be.
Consider that the co-founders of the application came from a software security background. And ATX acknowledges that “after 11 years of starts and stops in mobile payments, security is front of mind.”
TabbedOut encrypts your credit card information and stores it only on the phone itself. And you can even add a custom password just in case your phone is lost or stolen.
It’s more secure for the venue, as well, because the system verifies credit upfront.
Coming Soon to a Location Near You
TabbedOut initially launched in early 2010. Since then, it’s established partnerships with point-of-sale technology companies like Future POS, Jumpware, Dinerware and Agilysys (Nasdaq: AGYS).
And while it’s available in restaurants and bars in 90 U.S. cities, the closest one to me is 547 miles away, so it has plenty more growing to do.
Recently, though, ATX announced that the platform is now integrated with registers made by MICROS Systems (Nasdaq: MCRS). That means consumers can now use the app in 130,000 more places nationwide. (Locations just need to complete a simple software update to enable the application.)
Plus, ATX just raised $5.75 million in Series A funding, bringing total funds to $6.5 million. The company’s using that to expand its staff and amp up marketing efforts, which should consequently speed up adoption among local businesses.
Bottom line: ATX has positioned itself as a standout player in the burgeoning mobile payments industry. As the CTO of MICROS says, “Security encryption on the back end, coupled with the marketing capabilities and social media integration on the front end… TabbedOut’s approach marks a radical shift in the mobile payment landscape.”
Not to mention, the application represents another nail in the coffin for credit cards.