Check Please: OpenTable Tests Mobile Payments In San Francisco

The feature will debut in San Francisco by the end of the year.

No more waiting around idly after a meal. OpenTable is testing mobile payments in 20 restaurants in San Francisco, allowing diners to pay and take off without having to flag down a busy waiter, the restaurant-booking site told Fast Company.

The company says this feature aims to attract new customers, and it won't take a cut of transactions paid with the app. Restaurants, which opt into the service, will be charged interchange fees by credit card companies.

Though OpenTable declined to comment on specific features, when asked about check-splitting capabilities, the spokeswoman said that would be "a natural fit." There are still some kinks to iron out with this test, such as avoiding potential confusion between customers and waiters, the latter of whom might not be aware that diners paid for their meals before leaving the restaurant. Also, what about tipping? The pilot will help OpenTable refine this offering after collecting feedback from participating restaurants.

The pilot shouldn't be too surprising given the reservation site's acquisition of restaurant payments startup JustChalo in June for $11 million in stock. More than a third of OpenTable diners used their mobile devices to book restaurant reservations in the first quarter of 2013.

It seems that while startups in the food scene grew in popularity by developing certain niches, such as food reviews, reservations, and delivery, they're now looking to integrate and streamline additional services. Earlier this month, Yelp announced its plans to pilot a food-delivery service in San Francisco and New York City to become a one-stop shop for users.

After completing this pilot program, OpenTable intends to introduce mobile payments more widely to San Francisco by the end of the year and expand to other markets afterward.

[Image: Robert Scoble]

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