The U.S. restaurant industry is still challenged to fit EMV-chip card payments into an ordering and payment structure built around cash and magstripe cards. The vendor MyCheck sees this uncertainty as an opportunity to win restaurants over to its mobile payment system.
To strengthen its appeal, Tel Aviv, Israel-based MyCheck has launched a menu re-ordering feature to its restaurant branded applications, allowing diners to order more food or drinks from their mobile phones rather than signal a waiter.
The new feature fits with MyCheck's goal of making dining an easier process through a smartphone, while eliminating the use of plastic cards for payment either through mobile point of sale tablets at the table or with a waiter taking the card for payment.
Many restaurants are considering tablet or wireless POS setups to accommodate EMV chip card acceptance.
"The EMV mandate is a great opportunity for MyCheck," said Tal Nathanel, the U.S. CEO for MyCheck. "Our platform enables e-commerce transactions, so it is indeed an easier method than EMV." All payments through MyCheck are considered card-not-present digital payments.
Because EMV encourages merchants to upgrade hardware and software, restaurant owners can consider MyCheck as a less expensive alternative, or as part of an EMV upgrade, Nathanel said.
Restaurant owners have been picking up the pace the past two months in seeking quick certification and upgrades to EMV because of the Oct. 1 liability shift. But they are weighing those costs against the changes they will have to make in how they accept payments from patrons.
"The restaurant industry is always going to be interested in any application that is relevant to its business," said Adil Moussa, payments strategic marketing analyst at Omaha, Neb.-based Adil Consulting. "If it is increasing sales or reducing any type of expense, it is going to be attractive to the restaurant owner."
In regards to EMV, the biggest challenge for restaurants is going to be training customers to decide on a tip before handing over their card, Moussa said. This is because a waiter cannot add the diner's tip to the total charge of an EMV payment after the fact.
"If MyCheck has that part figured out, it would address a big concern," Moussa said.
MyCheck, operating as the technology behind a restaurant's branded app, handles tips, bill splitting amongst parties of multiple diners, ordering ahead and loyalty programs. The app integrates Apple Pay with the restaurant POS system.
Use of branded apps that include loyalty are likely to become popular at chain restaurants or for diners who are loyal to a certain brand and like the bill splitting option, Moussa said.
"But an application is not likely to solve the EMV problem for a smaller mom-and-pop restaurant owner," Moussa added. "It is tough to sell your app, when there are so many other apps to choose from."
Earlier this year, MyCheck received a $5 million investment from Santander Innoventures Fund, signaling interest in the company's approach to serving the restaurant industry.
MyCheck launched its services in 2011, and made its debut in New York City dining establishments in 2013 with technology that initially allowed users to open, view and pay tabs with plastic cards or PayPal accounts with their mobile phones.
MyCheck technology is similar to that of Tabbedout, an Austin, Texas-based restaurant software provider that allows diners to open a tab and keep adding to it before hitting a pay button.