NFC system to let you pay for dinner via cell phone

A new NFC system being ramped up by Verifone and Micros for the restaurant industry would allow diners to pay their checks through their NFC-equipped mobile phones.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

You may soon be able to pay for dinner at your favorite restaurant directly through your cell phone courtesy of a new NFC system slated to become available later this year.

Announced today by electronic payment company VeriFone and software developer Micros Systems, the new system would tap into the growing technology of near field communication (NFC) to let customers pay for dinner bills through a digital wallet stored on their mobile devices.

By storing credit card and bank account information, cell phones equipped with the necessary NFC technology can exchange information with other equipped phones as well NFC-based registers and terminals as a way of paying for goods and services wirelessly. Two NFC devices can "talk to each other" simply by touching or passing close to each other, similar to existing contactless card technologies, such as Visa's PayWave service.

The new system would use VeriFone's Payware Mobile Enterprise product to work with existing smartphones and other devices to securely accept mobile payments. Micros, which supplies software to the restaurant and hospitality industries, would integrate its own Restaurant and Table Management point of sale product with Verifone's Payware product.

The system would allow restaurants to not only accept payments from NFC-enabled smartphones, but also process coupons and promotions. Unlike using a credit card, diners won't be required to hand over their cell phones to their waiters.

"Widespread adoption of NFC requires a restaurant solution, but consumers are not willing to hand over their mobile phones to the wait staff," Paul Rasori, VeriFone senior vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "Micros and VeriFone are combining forces to deliver a low-cost, services-based solution that allows restaurants to provide NFC payment convenience to consumers without having to make a large, upfront investment."

Demoing the new technology at this week's NRA (National Restaurant Association) 2011 show, the two companies expect the new system to be available through resellers during the second half of this year.