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Mobile payment apps gain traction in the quick-serve restaurant space

By: capturecode | Dec 5, 2013

When it comes to any new technology, there tend to be pioneers or trendsetters that lead the way and show other companies in their space how to leverage these innovations. One example of this is businesses using social media for promotional purposes. Many organizations pictured social networks as communication tools with limited utility for marketing and advertising purposes. However, trendsetters such as Ford began using Facebook as early as 2008 and 2009 to unveil new car models, illustrating the value of social media as a promotional tool.

Mobile Payments Today recently suggested that the unveiling of Subway's mobile payment app may be a similar watershed moment for the use of mobile wallets in the restaurant business. Earlier this fall, the company announced it would be developing its own mobile app that could process payments and function as a loyalty and reward program.

Subway isn't the first restaurant to offer mobile payments, as several other major brands have done so in the past, such as Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds. However, Subway is the world's largest restaurant chain, with more than 33,000 stores across the globe. If Subway is developing a mobile payments app, that means it's time for other quick-serve restaurants to consider doing the same.

Understanding the value of mobile payment apps to customers
If businesses don't have a mobile app, or if they do but want to add mobile wallet functionality, it's important to understand what drives people to use these apps in the first place. Mobile payments are about more than just quickly processing transactions, they're about consumer engagement. If businesses don't provide value to their customers on that front, their apps may not gain much traction.

For many consumers, the expression "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" applies doubly for their payment options. The simple swipe of a credit card is just about the easiest thing imaginable, so even if  businesses create mobile wallets that are incredibly intuitive and easy to use, they are still fighting an uphill battle against a means of payment that has been ingrained into society for decades now.

However, brands can make the use of mobile wallets more valuable to customers, which might easily tip the needle in the other direction. As Subway is doing, companies can tie their mobile payment apps into their loyalty and reward programs so when people pay for their food via their smartphones, they automatically collect points that can be redeemed for discounts at a later date.

Rewards programs have been around for ages, but they have never been so directly tied to making payments. Companies used more archaic means, such as punch cards, that could easily be lost or destroyed, turning an initiative that was designed to reward consumers into something that wasn't very fulfilling.

Now, with a mobile payments app, consumers can easily track their points, making rewards programs easier to use and more valuable as a result. With major brands such as Subway developing payments apps to bolster mobile consumer engagement, it's time for businesses across industries to consider doing the same.

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