Split Bread, a SFO restaurant goes Cashless

During my school days, I used to work at the 'Grab n Go counter' as a Checker at one of the University Dining Halls. I recall now, how cumbersome it was to count the cash before operation hours and recount it post dining hall operation hours. Things went worse whenever there was shortage of cash due to counting errors or misplacing the dollar bills. I wonder if we had accepted only cashless payments how much money and time the restaurant would have saved. While researching about the usage of QR Codes in restaurants, Split Bread caught my attention.

Split Bread is one of the restaurants from San Francisco that has taken the road to mobile payments and said ‘no’ to cash transactions. Split Bread was found by Andrew Swallow and David Silverglide.

Split Bread has been in operation since August 2012 and has accepted cashless transactions since then. Split Bread also plans to open two more outlets in the next year which will also operate as cashfree outlets. Split Bread has tie ups with companies like First Data Corp and Mercury Payments Systems to help them process the payments.

Split Bread claims that a customer can order a meal in 3 ways:

  1. A customer could either order at their desk or on a smartphone and order can be checked out at arrival.
  2. Sitting at an open table in the restaurant, scanning the QR code placed on the table.
  3. With one of Split Bread’s hosts.

To keep things simple, if you walk into a Split Bread restaurant all you need to do is:

  1. Grab a seat
  2. Scan the QR code from your smartphone
  3. app recognizes your seating location
  4. Select the meal from your screen
  5. Enter your card details
  6. Pay for it through your smartphone
  7. Server brings the meal to you and you’re set to have your meal

Source:Currency of Progress

Some of the benefits for merchants to adopt such system is that it saves them the transaction processing time and gives them additional time to interact with customers. Making the restaurant owners and staff to focus on customer service and worry less on customer payments. Some of the benefits that a customer sees in adopting such a system could be to spend little or no time waiting in queues.

One of the drawbacks that merchants see in adopting such system is the transaction fees charged by the banks. According to Silverglide, converting to cashless payments is absolutely cost-effective. During the recently held electronics payments conference conference, Silverglide shared a slide with the audience. The slide had statistics which showed that a regular customer visited 1.72x per month whereas a cashless customer (who use QR codes as a method of payment) visited 2.83x per month. Giving $190 more in revenue per QR customer.

The Co-Founders of Split Bread also run a popular salad chain called Mixt Greens. Though the Split Bread owners have been able to completely accept cashless payments, they haven’t yet adopted such practice at Mixt Greens.

LTP View: Going completely cashless for accepting payments may not work in some scenarios. If we take a look at the digital payment innovations and adoption rate, masses may not yet be equipped to adopt such practices. What Split Bread has done is a bold move.