The exaggerated writing gesture used by restaurant diners to get a waiter’s attention is a hand signal understood almost everywhere in the world. There is a reason for this recognition: no one enjoys hanging around to settle their food bill.
Help is on its way, however, in the form of a couple of smartphone app businesses.
London-based Flypay launched its service this month in mid-market UK restaurant chains Wahaca and Burrito Mama, having secured a £1m investment from private equity firm Entrée Capital.
Diners either scan or enter a Flypay code to receive an itemised bill on their smartphone. Once payment has been made, using debit or credit cards, the app notifies the restaurant, leaving the diners free to leave, and saving the waiting staff the bother of bringing over chip-and-pin terminals.
A similar service is offered by MyCheck, which operates in Tel Aviv, London and New York, and has raised $6.1m since it was founded in 2011. MyCheck is the largest mobile payment company in Israel, with more than 100,000 direct subscribers and more than 1m indirect users through its partnership with Pango, the country’s nationwide electronic parking payment provider and Isracard (MasterCard Israel).
More than 400 merchants in Israel accept MyCheck, which allows users to pay for petrol, parking, taxis and hotels as well as settle restaurant bills.
Flypay’s app may be more limited in its scope but it claims to make the bill payment process more efficient. For instance, unlike MyCheck, Flypay does not require a four-digit pin to be handed to a waiter. Whichever system cracks it, eating out is unlikely to be the same again.
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