OpenTable sees mobile payments on app's menu

Online restaurant reservations service is testing a system that will allow diners to pay for their meals from within the booking service's app.

OpenTable on iPad. OpenTable

OpenTable has been making restaurant reservations for years, but now it wants to help diners pick up the check.

The online service, which lets users book tables via its smartphone app and Web site, is testing a payment-processing system that will allow diners to pay for their meal from within the app, The New York Times reports. When the check comes at the end of the meal, the diner would open the app to review the check and add tip before paying the bill with a touch of a button, OpenTable CEO Matthew Roberts explained to the Times.

"There's no scanning, there's no bar codes, there's no geeky stuff," Roberts said, adding that the reservation service wouldn't take a percentage of the bill but rather would charge the restaurant the typical credit card transaction fee.

The feature could help attract more users and revenue for OpenTable, which is already used by 28,000 restaurants and 450 million diners worldwide. The San Francisco-based company currently derives the bulk of its revenue from monthly subscription fees charged restaurants to access to the company's service, as well as a fee paid by restaurants for each guest seated as a result of reservations made through the service.

The service is expected to go live later this year in San Francisco, but Roberts conceded there were obstacles to be overcome first. One such challenge is how to communicate to the restaurant staff that a bill has been paid so that diners who use the mobile payment feature won't be suspected of trying to skip out.

OpenTable's efforts in the space will likely get a boost from its $11 million acquisition in June of JustChalo, a mobile payments processor specializing in restaurants.

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