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Touchless Payment Explained

Toast tap

Thinking about using touchless (tap n' go) payments at your restaurant? Learn everything you need to know about touchless payment options and the technology behind them.

Touchless payment is one of the most exciting new technology trends in restaurants and a great way to ramp up efficiency in your business. Touchless pay systems are safe, transparent, and easy to implement. Additionally, they facilitate frictionless, speedy interactions between staff and guests. As an added benefit, these systems can also help collect valuable customer-specific information, making marketing to regulars or new guests even easier.

Read on to learn about touchless pay technology and how it can streamline the payment process as we reimagine the future of restaurants.

What is a Touchless Payment?

Touchless payments use NFC, or “near-field communication,” technology to enable smart devices like phones and tablets to act as readers and tags. Like EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) smart-chips, NFC payments are more secure than a magnetic stripe because they are dynamically encrypted and less prone to fraud.

Additionally, most mobile wallet apps require verification via PIN, password, fingerprint, or facial recognition before a payment is authorized, along with any security key(s) needed to unlock the device. 

NFC payments require no contact with the terminal because they use RFID technology (radio-frequency identification), so guests can place phones a few inches from a handheld point of sale or touchless kiosk, like a Toast Tap™.

Toast Tap™ accepts all forms of tap payment, including apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, among others, and its hardware is spill-proof and grease-, dust-, and heat-resistant.

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Power your restaurant with hardware that won't let you down.

Touchless Pay Technology Expanding

The adoption of touchless payments is growing rapidly, as more people become comfortable with the technology — and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated that process.

Last May, Mastercard reported that 78% of its European transactions were touchless. They also reported similar growth in Latin America, with 35% of people there reporting increased use of touchless payments. Worldwide, the pandemic is changing how we pay.

Toast’s Guide to the Restaurant Guest helps restaurant people understand how to adapt to the post-COVID landscape. The guide surveyed more than 700 guests, and 34% identified touchless payment availability as “extremely important” to their dining experiences.

Touchless pay isn’t just a bonus amenity — it’s becoming the new standard.

The Guide to the Restaurant Guest
700+ restaurant guests share how their expectations for dining have changed during COVID-19.

Types of Touchless Payments for Restaurants - QR Code Payments and Payment Apps

There are several different types of touchless payments. In addition to systems like Toast Tap™, which attach to a central POS, guests can use touchless pay systems at their table, with a handheld point of sale, or on their phones by scanning a QR (Quick Response) code.

QR codes are decoded by the devices that scan them, which convert the horizontal and vertical patterns into a string of characters forming a command. The code might command your device to open a browser link, authorize a payment, or verify a location, among other things.

Both iPhones and Android phones can scan these codes directly from their main camera apps, so nearly anyone can make use of QR code payment with ease. Transactions are usually then confirmed with a code, facial ID, or fingerprint.

How to Use Tap to Pay 

The name says it all: simply tap to pay. The song and dance of presenting a receipt, accepting a payment, and thanking the guest is a familiar experience. But guests might not value this custom over a more convenient and efficient transaction. Instead, many will appreciate the more streamlined experience.

To pay on a tap to pay kiosk like Toast Tap™, a guest must simply scan their payment method of choice over the reader, and payment is processed in seconds.

Pay at the table technology includes handheld point of sale systems and Order and Pay, where guests scan a QR code (or open an app) to view menus, select food and drinks, and pay their bill. With Order and Pay, customers input their own payment information — the entire transaction is in their hands.

In 2017, 68% of diners told us that pay at the table technology improves their experience. It improves guest security and convenience, empowering them to use their preferred form of secure payment. Four years later, COVID-19 has accelerated this growing demand.

How Restaurants can Accept Touchless Payments

While there are some upfront costs of implementing an touchless payment system, the technology can also save a lot of money and time in the long run. 

Touchless pay systems can improve table turn times and reduce friction caused by split checks and payment processing at a central point of sale. This can lead to higher tips for staff and reduced labor costs. They also make for easier expense tracking and a lot of saved paper.

It’s as easy as setting up a Toast Tap™ or signing up for Order and Pay and letting your guests do the rest.

Tap into the future

Touchless payments are more secure financially, safer physically, and more sanitary than traditional forms of payment. They improve efficiency, personalization of service, and marketing — and they can leave guests delighted by a convenient, seamless transaction experience. 

As technology reshapes restaurants and helps to streamline the dining experience for staff and guests, touchless payments will play a key role in the process. In fact, they already are.

The future is so close, you can touch it. Luckily, you don’t have to. Check out Toast's touchless hardware options here.

Hardware Built for Restaurants
Power your restaurant with hardware that won't let you down.