Commentary

The Quiet Growth of Mobile Payments in the World of QSR

The boost in mobile payments may occur quietly as masses of consumers are provided with easy order and payment options from places they regularly frequent.

I’ve long thought that the most successful mobile payment plans would involve places where recurring payments happen.

Paying by phone on a one-time basis can be more of a novelty and not add any real value beyond the wow factor.

But using a phone to pay for something over and over again can provide value. The most obvious example is at Starbucks, where mobile payments are integrated with rewards and quick and easy checkout.

It often seems like the less-hyped and quietly implemented mobile payments ultimately come off best.

A counter-example is the Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile joint venture Softcard, formerly known as Isis, which was initially announced and promoted with great fanfare. In its early iterations, I spent countless hours attempting to get it to work in multiple locations, but to no avail.

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But now that the initial noise around the launch has long-since settled, Softcard mobile payments work effortlessly and perfectly in many places.

But a bit under the radar are the payment features being added by many quick service restaurants.

Some of these are quietly launched and discovered by regular customers.

Subway has included ordering and payments in its app for some time as it expands the program to all its locations, expected to be complete soon.

Chick-fil-A this week introduced mobile ordering in its app and in its pilot markets customers can order and pay by phone before they reach the restaurant.

Other QSR brands, such as McDonald’s and Domino’s, are accepting mobile payments by Apple Pay or Softcard.

No one is being forced to move to mobile payments.

However, for people who make frequent trips to their favorite restaurant for a quick takeout order, mobile ordering and payments can translate into faster and more efficient service, as well as skipping a long line at peak times.

It's not so much the actual payment that provides the value here; it’s the entire process, repeated over and over again.

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