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James Hussher
Credit card merchant setup/sales
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Restaurants deploy Pay At The Table wireless technology

Restaurant diners can now pay their bill with their waiter right at their table with large benefits to the restaurant & security for cardholder.
Written Mar 04, 2009, read 2147 times since then.


A new electronic payment technology is rolling out.  Restaurants traditionally present diners with their check, the diner hands over a credit card and the waiter dashes off to a service station to run the card, print out a receipt and return to the diner's table to have the receipt signed and return their credit card.  Now waiters can process the cards right there at the customer's table!

It's called "Pay At The Table" and it is gaining rapid popularity with both diners and restaurant staff.

It involves the deployment of small wireless credit card readers with either a built-in printer or a small printer worn on the waiter's belt that connects by Bluetooth or infrared with the card reader.  Some readers use General Packet radio Service (GPRS) or cellular signals to send the card data to the processing gateway for authorization.  Other wireless devices send the data over to the actual credit card terminal at the cashier or server station, which then gets the transaction authorized and signals the OK back to the portable printer to print the receipt.

Whichever means of technology is used, the concept itself carries great benefits for both the diner and the restaurant.

Take a restaurant that is processing $300,000 per month in credit card sales.  They will be paying about $7,500 per month in transaction fees.  Statistically, 50-60% of the cards they process are not actually credit cards but debit cards (check cards).  The transaction cost for a debit transaction where the customer enters their PIN is about half of the cost to process that card as a credit card transaction.  When the waiter removes the card from the table, and processes it at a remote station, there is no way to run the card as debit.  Now - process those cards at the table in front of the customer, hand him the mobile terminal with built-in PIN pad to enter their PIN and you have cut the $7,500 monthly credit card processing fees almost in half!

From the customer's standpoint, they feel more at ease not to have their card physically taken away from them, they have all heard those stories about criminal waiters stealing card numbers. (And it does happen.)  In a survey conducted by Verifone, a manufacturer of credit card processing equipment, 87% of diners surveyed said they felt a "high" sense of security having their transaction processed right at their table, and their card never leaving their sight.

Wireless terminals are turned in at the end of the server's shift.  The server prints out a transaction log that is then matched up with the guest checks for accounting purposes.  The terminals process transactions in "real time" and do not need to be "batched out" like a traditional black box credit card terminal.

Wireless terminals have been in use for a few years already by businesses such as pizza delivery restaurants, mobile locksmiths, home contractors, etc.

Wireless terminals can be leased for about $30 per month or purchased for about $800.  They do require a wireless service airtime fee of about $18 per month.

Contact your card processor account executive for more information about implemeting wireless processing in your business.

Learn more about the author, James Hussher.

Comment on this article

  • hairdresser/entrepreneur 
fort lauderdale, Florida 
roberta robinson
    Posted by roberta robinson, fort lauderdale, Florida | Mar 13, 2009

    This article as well as all of your articles, I am finding extremely informative and useful. Thank you!

  • Credit card merchant setup/sales 
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 
James Hussher
    Posted by James Hussher, Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Mar 13, 2009

    Thanks, Roberta...please VOTE the article, right now it has a 3 rating