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OpenTable piloting a way to pay for meals by iPhone

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Opentable Pay
Opentable Pay

OpenTable made a name for itself by giving people a way to make restaurant reservations online, and now looks to make a similar splash for what happens when people are done eating. The company today announced a public pilot program that will let diners pay for their bill right on their phone using its app. So far that's limited to about a dozen establishments in San Francisco, where OpenTable is headquartered; it also requires diners to pay using the company's iPhone app, meaning it's not for everyone.

Pay your bill without humans

OpenTable began testing the service last July, shortly after it acquired mobile payments company JustChalo, though the feature was not available to the public. On the back-end, the payments are being handled using existing OpenTable reservation and guest management systems, the company says. It's also capturing data about dishes people are ordering, something that OpenTable could use to get more information about its users.

The move is a direct response to a burgeoning crop of startups and larger companies looking to simplify payments at restaurants, an area that's long been the turf of major credit card companies and specialty sales services. That list includes Cover, Dash, Tabbed Out, PayPal, and Square. For OpenTable it also presents a chance to control the beginning and end of that meal. OpenTable says it's planning to bring the feature to Android, and potentially other platforms, though did not have an estimate for when that would be. The same goes for if and when the program will expand beyond San Francisco.