Coming soon, paying your tab without giving your credit card
NEW YORK — It’s 1 a.m. You’ve had a few too many at a bar and walk out without paying the tab. Your credit card and driver’s license sit behind the cash register, leaving your personal info widely accessible while you sleep off those vodka tonics.
There’s a new option that might lessen the pain. Not the hangover pain — for that, you’ll need aspirin. But if you’ve ever left your credit card at a bar by mistake or spent several minutes trying to flag down a harried bartender to close you out, there may be a new option.
An upgrade being rolled out this summer to Mastercard’s mobile payments service will let people open, manage and close their tabs at participating bars and taverns completely through their phones, without having to hand over a credit card. The Open Tab feature, available in the United States and the United Kingdom, will be an upgrade to Mastercard’s existing Qkr mobile payment service.
“We heard from so many bars and pubs who always have a number of credit cards left at the end of the evening, and we thought, ‘We know how to address this,’” said Betty DeVita, the business head of Mastercard’s Qkr platform. DeVita also cited Mastercard survey data that it takes on average 12 to 15 minutes to close out a bill, time that could be used to serve more tables and customers.
The service will be free to customers and the service will cost the same for bars and restaurants as their normal credit card processing costs, DeVita said. While Mastercard is rolling out the feature, Qkr will work with any major credit card as long as the merchant accepts it.
Seth Weinberg, the lead bartender at a restaurant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort, said he could definitely see the resort integrating the service.
“Having so many options to split a bill would be great. It can take a lot of work to split a complicated bill on a point-of-sale system that’s not set up correctly,” he said.
But Weinberg said he worries how the service might affect tips, often a substantial part of a bartender or server’s salary.
“You don’t get that last chance to interact with the customer,” he said.