Settle, a startup based in Ukraine, raised $1.5 Mn in funding in August and is launching its restaurant payments app in San Francisco this month. The app differentiates in the way that it is a hybrid between restaurant booking and food pre-ordering. Customers can simply use the app to link to their bank accounts and book a table, pre-order a menu item and pay for the meal in advance. The app doesn’t store any banking information as such.
For restaurants, there is tablet oriented dedicated merchant app which shows customer billing and activity information. In US Settle has partnered with Stripe for payments. Settle charges a fee which is 10% of the restaurant bill amount. Settle is not the first startup to offer app based payment system for restaurant ordering. Cover, TabbedOut, LevelUp, Resy and Reserve are already working in this area. Settle will already face some stiff competition when it makes the official launch.
Settle’s approach towards cutting the time in table reservation, in ordering and in pick-up might give it an edge over others. Settle wants to cut out pretty much any sort of waiting time that there can be. Partner restaurant merchants receive a free proprietary Settle tablet. The tablet can be used to settle bills and collect customer information for loyalty program purposes. Merchants are also charged with a certain fee for each preorder.
The startups venturing into the ‘order ahead’ might face some serious challenge if some tech giants enter the arena. In March 2014, PayPal had announced a major update to its iOS and Android apps in the UK. The company had introduced two features – that let users order food ahead of visiting the restaurant and enables them to pay for their food using the app via a 4 digit code. In neither case is the presence of the user’s credit/debit card required. Companies like PayPal already have the resources and brand power to expand in multiple geographies and establish a strong foothold.
For the San Francisco launch, Settle is currently in the phase of working out its first restaurant partnerships. Settle’s is already active in Ukraine and the company already has 20 partners in the city Kiev.