In great news for sandwich-loving germophobes, Jimmy John’s announced a partnership with Verifone and Worldpay, Inc. to test out a contactless-payment solution in its restaurants that’s “freaky fast,” according to a recent statement. Question is, will it make a difference in the U.S., where contactless payments remain elusive to the majority of consumers?
Contactless are payment methods that use RFID or near-field communication (NFC) for purchase, enabling the user to simply tap their card or device (e.g., phone, smart watch) near a POS. It’s sometimes referred to as “tap and go.”
Worldpay, meanwhile, does payment processing for a number of different business types, including large restaurant chains, and touts security as one of the top benefits for using its products. They’re also already a longtime partner of Jimmy John’s. For this new system, Worldpay partnered with Verifone to use the latter’s new Engage P400 device, which lets restaurants do EMV-grade — that is, chip-enabled — contactless payments and which Verifone considers its most advanced pin pad on market. The device also has touchscreen capabilities — a must, since contactless cards aren’t out in full force in the U.S. yet.
That’s an understatement, actually. According to a recent study by Visa, contactless EMV cards outside the U.S. count for two in five face-to-face transactions. Granted, that’s only Visa transactions, and it’s a Visa-commissioned study, but it does hint at how the rest of the developed world handles the concept. The same study noted that quick-service restaurants and grocery stores “consistently experienced high adoption of contactless payments.”
Stateside, however, contactless payments remain the exception rather than the norm in what’s kind of a chicken-versus-egg scenario: only about 20 percent of U.S. stores are equipped to handle contactless payments, which makes banks reluctant to issue more cards with NFC built into them. But one wonders, would more stores spend the money on contactless solutions if they knew more people would pay with NFC-enabled cards or with their phones?
Nonetheless, contactless payment seems inevitable, especially at quick-service restaurants like Jimmy John’s, where speed is king. They’re certainly not the first chain to try it, either: places like Subway, Jack in the Box and Whataburger have offered the technology for years, and anyone who’s set foot inside a Starbucks in the last few years will see contactless payments in action in-store and at the drive-thru window.
The question is, will Jimmy John’s adoption of the technology be another tiny drop in the bucket or is it the start of the next wave of payments at restaurants.
Have thoughts about mobile payments at restaurants? We’d love to read them in the comments.