MasterCard is planning to roll out a new upgrade to its mobile payment service that would allow users to open, manage and close tabs at bars using their phones.
The new upgrade eliminates the need to hand over a credit card when opening or closing a tab.
The new feature, called Open Tab, will be available in the UK and US, and is an upgrade to the company’s Qkr mobile payment service. Open Tab is essentially a credit card machine for phones.
Users won’t have to pay any additional fees to use the service, and bars will be charged the normal credit card processing costs. QKr isn’t limited to MasterCard accounts. The service works with any major credit card the merchant accepts.
“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,'” says Betty DeVita, head of the Qkr platform. DeVita says it also takes bars 10-15 minutes on average to close out a tab, time better spent serving customers.
Qkr’s Open Tab feature is straightforward. A tab can be set up either through the Qkr app or the bar’s app by entering credit card information. Once the tab is open, the customer is assigned a table number, which is given to the bartender each time a drink is ordered.
The tab can also be closed out using the app. Other people can also be added to the tab to pay for individual drinks or rounds of drinks. There’s also an option to automatically leave a tip.
If a customer forgets to close out a tab, it’s automatically closed out at the end of the evening. Bartenders no longer need to hold onto credit cards.
The app also protects bars from fraudulent credit card use, as MasterCard pre-authorizes all cards before tabs are opened.
“Today, we’re looking for convenience in all parts of our lives,” says DeVita. “Qkr! with Masterpass provides them with a frictionless retail experience – bringing together self-service, fast, seamless payments and card safety and security in new and unique ways.”
Industry experts say the feature is a welcomed advancement, but they worry how it will impact tips. Bartenders never get that chance to interact with a customer one last time.
Smaller establishments say they don’t have the volume of customers to justify paying for the service.
A few restaurants have already adopted the Qkr payment system, including ASK Italian, Juan Valdez, wagamama, Zizzi, Young Pubs and Change Please. The service is also live in Mexico, the UK and Columbia. MasterCard is planning to expand its Qkr! with Masterpass service to six additional markets: Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Singapore and the United States.
Qkr also allows restaurants to accommodate more customers by introducing new services, such as takeaway. Restaurants may also offer targeted promotions directly to their customers and even create rewards programs that boost loyalty and engagement.
Qkr’s web-based platform is already used by managers to manage and view inventory, menus and pricing.