I was involved in a process yesterday of evaluating innovation and technology projects in UK banking.
The process was interesting, as I reached a point where I couldn’t see one project that was really innovative or major.
The innovation projects were things like email triggers and text messaging for fraudulent payment transactions, and the technology projects were rectifying poor customer service and maintaining the bank’s ability to keep up with end user mobile devices and tablet interfaces.
None of these projects were innovative or leading edge, and I wondered whether it was just me or a reflection of the lack of innovation or major technology leadership in UK finance?
Then the final straw: the choice of the best was given to a point of sale system that helps merchants take card payments.
A POS system?
I must admit my irritation buttons were buzzing loudly at this point, as we see Square taking over the world of America (yes, America is a world in case you didn’t know), but it’s not even emergent here.
Sure, we have PayPal Here, the Triangle, but that’s not taken off yet.
But then I came back to this POS system and cannot feel that a POS terminal is anything that deserves recognition anymore when we have loads of mobile apps abounding all over to displace this last century technology:
Imagine a restaurant where you can browse from the menu, place your orders and pay for the meal with a credit card, all from the comfort of the dining table without having to even call the waiter. Well that seems to be the vision of the people behind the MTT300 Touch Table PC by Moneual.
Ever wish you could do self-service ordering in a restaurant – no waiting for a server to get to your table? HubWorks makes a system that can serve up a digital menu on an iPad you’d have at your table, and deliver that order directly to the kitchen. There’s even a credit card swipe on the side for fast payment and you’re on your way!
The Thirsty Bear in London has installed a new self-service system in their pub, which allows customers to pour their own beer and pay for it using an iPad on their table.
In fact, Forbes recently reviewed the rapid change developments taking place in the hospitality industry for payments and identifies a wide range of emerging trends:
- Mobile ordering. This is one area where fast-food chains are in the forefront. Domino’s Pizza is so far along with it, they recently introduced their Spanish-language mobile-ordering app.
- iPad order kiosks. Why wait in line if you can file your order at a kiosk immediately, and then sit down and relax? Blazing Onion Burger Company is testing this system out in a new restaurant opened last month in Seattle. Expect more of this, since it could help prevent walk-aways and result in more orders.
- Facebook ordering. This may be the biggest technology leap coming in the next year, as nearly 100 percent of restaurant owners say they plan to have a Facebook presence by next year. Companies specializing in Facebook-payment integration for restaurants such as ChowNow and NetWaiter are helping chains to get their ordering onto the popular platform. This is a fairly low-cost add-on to make, and it has the potential to grow sales, which always gets a restaurauteur’s attention. For instance, the Taco Spot in Charleston, SC saw a 10 percent sales bump after implementing Facebook-based ordering, trade magazine Fast Casual recently reported.
- Tabletop e-waiter & checkout. Diners hate it when waiters take their credit card away and run it up at the register — it’s a common point for credit-card fraud. Hand them a restaurant iPad they can self-checkout on where their card doesn’t leave their sight, and they’re happy. That often-endless wait for the card and bill to return doesn’t win fans, either. E la Carte’s Presto tablet is one solution that offers tableside self-checkout and more — it even suggests additional items to order, and the company reports it cuts 7 minutes off the average diner’s stay. Customers are happy with the faster service, and restaurants can serve more diners per night. Airport-restaurant chain HMSHost is among the operators using Presto.
- Digital menu boards + smartphones. Watch for fast-food restaurants to change menus more often, because digital menu boards make it so much easier than manually changing prices and items. Digital signage also allows quick-serve restaurants to provide entertainment and interactivity while you wait in line — for example, Boston-based burrito chain Boloco’s digital signboard allows patrons to play tic-tac-toe against friends or the computer while they wait.
- Games while-u-wait. Gaming industry sources report McDonald’s is projecting gesture-enabled gamesonto restaurant floors for kids to play while they wait for Happy Meals, in 150 of the chain’s higher-profile locations. Now that’ll keep kids busy — and we all know happy kids mean happy parents who come back to your restaurant.
- Online coupons. More restaurants are using digital coupons, and diners gobble them up — in the Technomic survey, 58 percent of diners said they’ve already used them.
The point of listing the above is that to be recognising innovation and technology change as being a new POS or an upgrade to front end systems to interface with mobile technologies, is a little like applauding a dinosaur for being able to reach a higher tree just before the Ice Age wipes them out.
Something like that anyway.