Although hospitality-focused mobile payment application developer Tabbedout's technology has some resemblance to Square's mobile wallet, the vendor says it designed its system to be more compatible with established payment systems.

"We integrate into [point of sale systems] that run the majority of bars and restaurants in hospitality today," says Arturo Coto, Tabbedout's vice president of sales and marketing. "We chose this strategy because we didn't want to disrupt points of sale, and wanted to play nice with everybody."

Tabbedout announced this week a software development kit, or SDK, that allows national restaurant chains and third-party developers to integrate Tabbedout's mobile payment application into their branded mobile applications.

Tabbedout "is not about closing the transaction," Coto says. "It's the ability to open the tab, maintain an open tab, and before you hit the pay button see if there's accuracy with the tab. Were very focused on hospitality."

Similar systems like Square's Pay with Square and PayPal's mobile app allow consumers to signal their presence when they enter a store and open a tab. Their apps transmit the consumer's picture to the merchant, providing an added form of authentication before the payment is completed.

PayPal works with various point of sale providers, such as ShopKeep POS, which helped test its mobile-payment system at a recent film festival in New York. Square, however, argues that its technology is good enough to replace the point of sale systems at many small merchants. 

Tabbedout works with the restaurant point of sale provider Micros Corp., and is in talks with NCR Corp.'s Aloha system, says Coto. It also works with Jumpware Inc., Dinerware Inc., Future POS Inc. and Focus POS Systems Inc.

TGI Friday's, a Micros customer, worked with Tabbedout last spring to incorporate Tabbedout's technology into the mobile applications its corporate-owned TGI Friday's locations offer.

Tabbedout's software allows consumers to use a mobile app to open a tab, follow its progress, pay and tip in restaurants and bars that have integrated Tabbedout into their point of sale systems. Users store debit or credit card information in the application and it is sent to an establishment's POS system under encryption.

Many restaurants have mobile applications that offer nothing more than their locations, hours of operation and menus, Coto says.

"What they're finding out is, 'If we want to create a stickiness with the consumer we have to offer something of value,'" Coto says. "The mobile payment is a logical next step."

Tabbedout's SDK includes a template which consists of screen-view controllers that interact with the SDK's model and service objects. Coto says that when a restaurant wants to use Tabbedout, it adds the template's code into its existing application code.

The restaurant then adds its own color scheme, logo and fonts. The backend at Tabbedout imports the restaurant's location names and information, and ensures they are valid locations and that they are able to accept payment. The restaurant is then ready to publish the application and share it with customers.

"We don't disrupt any of their back-office operations," says Coto. "Whatever processor is being used is fine with us."

Tabbedout charges a licensing fee per location, Coto says.

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