OpenTable Rolls Out Mobile Payments Nationwide

Following a trial in San Francisco earlier this year, OpenTable on Monday said it will expand its mobile payments service nationally in the coming months. The new feature allows users to pay for meals through the OpenTable iPhone app in addition to booking restaurant reservations.

OpenTable, which was acquired by Priceline in June for $2.6 billion, has rolled out mobile payments to about 45 restaurants in New York and will extend the service to 20 more cities by year’s end. People pay with OpenTable by adding a credit card to the app, with no check-in, scanning or barcodes involved in the process, according to the company.

An OpenTable spokesperson declined to provide details on the pilot program in San Francisco, except to say that the initial results suggest the ability to pay via mobile at tables leads to faster turnover of tables and “encouraging trends in tip and check size.” The company isn’t charging customers or restaurant clients extra for mobile payment, providing it as a value-added service.

Other companies this year have begun to offer a pay-at-table option through their mobile services including PayPal and Cover. The aim is to eliminate the sometimes-frustrating experience of having to wait to pay a restaurant tab.

“OpenTable’s prospects look particularly promising, as it has relationships with 31,000 restaurants from its reservation service that it can tap into,” noted Jordan McKee, a senior analyst, in a commentary about the payments service in June. Interestingly, a recent USA Today story indicated that widespread mobile use has actually led people to linger longer at tables as they text, tweet or post photos of meals to social media.

The move into payment is part of OpenTable’s broader push to be more mobile-centric. Last year, it seated 110 million diners via mobile, and in the first quarter, 40% of the total came through mobile. OpenTable, on average, seats more than 15 million diners a month. It charges restaurants a monthly fee to seat diners booking online.

Among New York restaurants adding OpenTable’s m-payments service are Agave, Café Luxembourg, Il Buco, Le Cirque, Ruby Foos and The Odeon. 

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