Mobile check-in and pay has been underused in most markets, but a German bagel shop hopes the technology can encourage normally cash-reliant Germans to go digital.

Bagel Brothers Frankfurt uses tablet point of sale hardware from orderbird to accept PayPal “Check-In,” which doesn’t require the consumer to scan, tap or hand a phone over to a clerk. In less than a year, the shop has seen a gradual uptake.

“It’s not that we have customers lined up by the hundreds to use PayPal [Check-in],” said Andreas Bolze, owner of the bagel shop. “We have loyal customers that do it once or twice a day.”

Cash is still the dominant payment method at Bagel Brothers, accounting for about 90% of transactions, Bolze said. But mobile payments are becoming more popular because of the convenience of not having to carry cash and cards and instead initiating payments with a device the customer is already sure to be carrying, he said.

To use the payment method, a customer must activate the GPS on their mobile device. The app then brings up the PayPal-accepting merchants in the area and the customer can choose a store to check in to, such as Bagel Brothers.

The customer’s photo, which was uploaded when they first signed up for PayPal, then pops up on the merchant’s point of sale terminal and items can be rung up under that profile. The merchant then initiates the payment. The amount is authenticated by the customer on their mobile device, and the merchant and consumer receive digital receipts.

Consumers use mobile payments far more at quick-service retailers for smaller transactions. Bastian Schmidtke, co-founder of Berlin-based orderbird, said German street vendors and those that sell out of food trucks, have benefited from using PayPal's check-in and pay option.

“It’s faster than cash,” Bolze said. “We’re in the middle of the banking district and at lunch it’s crazy and crowded; speed is very important.”

PayPal Check-In also helps manage cashflow. The money is transferred immediately into the business’ PayPal account, which can then be used to purchase things online, said Bolze.

The check in model for payments hasn't always worked. Square had a similar mobile wallet that it replaced in May with Square Order, an application that allows consumers to order ahead of visits to merchants. The company said Square Wallet did not resonate with customers, although many experts in the industry believe making the payment “invisible” will increase adoption of mobile payments.

PayPal has seen a bit more success. During a PayPal-run promotion at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Artisans stores in New York City and Los Angeles, the creamery saw a 2% spikein mobile payments initiated with PayPal’s check-in feature. The alternative payments company also expanded the option to the Netherlands in July, with plans for France, Austria and the U.K.

Google is also testing an “invisible” mobile payments method called Plaso with its employees, allowing them to speak their initials to the cashier to pay.

“We are not winning the war with offering mobile payment to our customers but it is fun and that little nerd within myself is just happy to have that shiny toy in our store,” Bolze said.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry