Friday, July 13, 2007

Pay-At-Table Systems Are Just Desserts

Wayne Smith, a patron at Ray's Killer Creek restaurant in Alpharetta, Ga., swipes his credit card through a device that allows customers to pay for their meal at the table. Image Credit: Jason Bronis / AP

Pay-At-Table Systems Are Just Desserts

Little by little, credit card skimming by restaurant table waiting staff is a problem creeping into some of the finer restaurants.

This practice of “skimming”, where the waiter has the equipment to be able to swipe and capture the credit card charging information from the magnetic stripe, is becoming one of the easiest identity theft scams to pull off because the equipment is relatively inexpensive and easy to conceal.

This practice and payment “Dance” at the end of a good meal out doesn’t have to exist.

Fine dining, sit-down restaurants can nip this problem in the bud and have the turnaround time of the customer at the table be reduced (thus making available a higher number of meals served at peak serving times) by having the server process the check at the table along with the delivery of the dessert.

Excerpts from AP via MSNBC -

Restaurants test table card readers
Rise in 'skimming' scams pressuring restaurateurs to adopt technology

By Greg Bluestein - Associated Press - Updated: 11:29 a.m. PT July 6, 2007

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - It's become routine for customers to swipe their credit or debit cards at consoles in fast-food joints, gas stations and grocery stores. So why do we still hand over the plastic at sit-down restaurants?

Pay-at-the-table systems are popular in Europe and other parts of the world, but they haven't yet caught on in the U.S., largely because equipment makers haven't been able to point to a reason why restaurateurs should invest in the gear.
"Restaurants are the last holdout where you still give up your credit card. That's why we think this is the next logical step," said Paul Rasori, VeriFone Inc.'s vice president of marketing.

Verifone's system, called the VX-670, is about the size of thick remote control and sports a square LCD screen and a numerical keypad. It accepts debit and credit cards and can automatically add the tip.

Once the customer swipes a card, the information is sent wirelessly to a computer in the restaurant. A tiny printer spits out a receipt.

Apriva Class A Certifies Hypercom's Optimum M4100 Blade, June 20, 2007 -- Hypercom's rugged Optimum M4100 Blade is the first truly mobile credit/debit terminal designed to comply with current global security standards and the smallest product of its kind. It weighs 7.1 ounces; is 4.9 inches long, 2.7 inches wide, and 1.15 inches deep; features GPRS and Wi-Fi communications; top-of-the-line high-contrast full-color signature capture touch screen; and other state-of-the-art features for restaurants, delivery services and other businesses worldwide. Image & Caption Credit: Business Wire

The Blade, a competitor from rival Hypercom Corp., is a sleek, hand-held unit. But it also sports a touch screen that can double as a menu and an optional contactless reader that lets customers wave their cards instead of swiping them.
Some studies suggest as much as 70 percent of all cases of credit-card skimming stem from restaurant scams. A 2005 report by Fair Isaac, the fraud-detection specialist, detailed how handheld skimming devices could take seconds to transmit data wirelessly to a fraudster and advised merchants to use table-side devices so cards are always in a customer's hand.

The pay-at-the-table manufacturers say there's another benefit: greater productivity.

"If we can tell them they can increase table turns on peak hours by 1 to 4 percent, what's that worth to businesses?" said Scott Goldthwaite, vice president of Hypercom's global business development.
Neither Verifone nor Hypercom — would reveal the price of the units, but both have launched tests in U.S. markets to gauge how the American diner reacts. Both companies specialize in secure electronic payment devices. Hypercom sells devices in Europe, China and Latin America. Verifone sells in Europe, Israel and Southeast Asia.

At Ray's Killer Creek, an upscale steakhouse in the north Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, the VeriFone system didn't take long to catch on.

Jim Wahlstrom, the restaurant's operating partner, spent roughly 10 minutes on briefing his waiters about the technology.

"We're all used to grocery stores and ATM machines," Wahlstrom said. "We all operate with our credit cards and debit cards in our daily lives."

As the happy-hour crowd filed into the restaurant on a recent weekday afternoon, many seemed unfazed by the new way to pay.

Read All>>

This video report from CNET -

Report for Pay-At-Table Systems begins at 1:15 time left and goes to 0:46.


hotspotblogger said...

Pay-at-Table technology has been used for over 10 years in Europe, developed by Ingenico, the largest maker of credit card terminals worldwide. We have been using an Ingenico terminal in our restaurant for over 2 years, a Beta given to us by Ingenico as it now introduces the terminal to the US.

The AP article was interesting, but inaccurate - the reason restaurants have been "slow" to get this technology is that merchant processors - those who broker all the credit card transactions - don't want restaurants to use PIN-based transactions which Pay-at-Table systems make available for the first time. Why? Because they lose their main source of profit, the Visa/MC "discount" mark-up, usually in the range of 1.5 - 2.0% of all sales. A PIN-based debit transaction cuts out the Visa/MC system altogether, going straight to the banking system.

Case in point: at my little restaurant (40 seats) I save between $200 and $300 per month in merchant processing fees, by "converting" Visa-debit charges to PIN-debit with my Ingenico terminal! Savings for a large restaurant would be even more significant.

You can see more info on the Ingenico terminal at

shannon said...

Apple stores use these processors for credit card transactions now. i don't know much about the business side of it, but i know it must be convenient... especially at restaurants. i have yet to see one but i think it would be really neat to use. and if it saves money, like the above noter says, hey, why not!