Subway recently announced that it was teaming up with MasterCard’s PayPass, becoming one of the first restaurants to offer the Google Wallet payment option to customers. The sandwich shop is gearing up to bring PayPass to some of its 7,000 chain locations by 2012’s first quarter.
What is Google Wallet?
Google Wallet is an innovative mobile payment system that uses something called “near field communication”. This means that a 4G phone with the Google Wallet app can be tapped at participating PayPass-enabled terminals as a method of payment. The payments are fast, secure and convenient and plenty of merchants are already planning for PayPass-enabled updates at checkout.
Credit cards, loyalty cards and even gift cards can all be loaded into a 4G mobile device. The credit card account information is communicated to the PayPass terminal when the phone is tapped at checkout. Merchants who are already accepting Google Wallet payments include Macy’s, RadioShack, Walgreens and Foot Locker, but restaurants haven’t been too keen about jumping on board.
Going into 2012, the only restaurants accepting Google Wallet, aside from Subway, are Jamba Juice, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s and Dairy Queen. Google Wallet at fast food restaurants makes sense given the nature of these quick chain food stores, but will dine-in restaurants offer this option in the future?
The Dine-In Dilemma
Dining in a traditional restaurant, not Subway or McDonalds, means having the check brought to the table and the server taking up the payment. Since payments are made through the server terminals, it’s unrealistic to think that Google Wallet will be used in dine-in restaurants anytime soon. Few customers would be comfortable having a server borrow their cell phones, taking them out of sight, in order to make Google Wallet payments. The risks involved include dropping or damaging phones or getting them mixed up with another customer’s. Would servers even want to deal with this type of new hassle? It’s doubtful.
This doesn’t mean that the potential doesn’t exist for Google Wallet to become so widespread that even restaurants begin accepting the new technology. Since the Google Wallet app can store multiple credit cards at once, it’s more convenient than carrying around a wallet full of plastic and the more people who buy 4G mobile devices and try the app, the more likely new technologies will stem from this.
It’s feasible to think that Google Wallet can someday be accepted at restaurants if a mobile PayPass terminal is developed. A portable terminal that can be brought to the table just like a check will need to be created first, solving all of the problems associated with Google Wallet and restaurant dining. Even so, this won’t happen for quite a while, meaning that old-fashioned credit cards won’t be going out of style in the immediate future.