Mobile transactions will hit $1.3 Tn worldwide by 2015, 4x what it is today, according to Juniper Research. Security threat could be one of the roadblocks for mobile transactions. 65% of all data breaches take place in the hospitality and retail sectors. More than 80% of restaurants say they prefer that their business be covered by a breach protection program. One of the alternatives which restaurant owners could choose is to look at secure payment platforms. RAIL could be one of those secure payment platforms protecting breaches in the hospitality sector..
RAIL, is a patented digital bill folder by Viableware Inc. Co-founded by Joe Snell (CEO) and Andrew Pope and backed by Swiftsure Capital LLC, they have recently raised $6.5 Mn in Series B funding, which brings Viableware’s total funding to a total of $7.45 Mn. Joe Snell is an experienced technology start-up veteran and his startups have generated over $330 Mn in investor returns.
RAIL is not a payment method. RAIL claims to be a platform that enables restaurant’s customers to self-swipe credit or debit cards at the table and sign with a stylus on the touch screen, extending the point-of-sale system to the table and targeting upscale restaurants.
After self-swiping, you use a stylus to complete the transaction on a digital representation of the bill. This set-up enables you to calculate tips, split the bill and answer customized customer feedbacks. RAIL offers diverse payment options ranging from credit/debit cards to NFC mobile payments. Also it provides peripheral functionalities like the device can command the Point-of-Sale (POS) system to print out a paper receipt.
One of the innovative functionalities that RAIL contains is to split the bill among multiple people and tip payment calculations or customers could choose the items they would like to pay for, then hand it off to the next person…after all no one wants to pay extra. The theory is that using the device will save waiters the time of having to return to the table to grab the card, run the information at a kiosk, and walk back to drop off the receipt. Saving customers the concern of having their credit cards out of their hands, or any worries about tip amounts being altered.
RAIL includes 1,700 new locations and 12 different restaurant groups among its partners. Recently, Viableware, Inc. has also announced that it has entered into a co-selling agreement with WorldPay. As part of the agreement, WorldPay will showcase Viableware's restaurant payment platform at key events for the payment and retail technology industries.
The question that arises is restaurants already have a self-payment option in the form of small table kiosks, like Ziosk or E La Carte. E La Carte gives diners the option of ordering, paying the bill and playing games all from a tablet on the side of the table. But the advantage over competitors for Viableware is RAIL is supposed to complement the waiter’s role rather than replace it. This idea of RAIL was recently resonated by chef Ethan Stowell of Bar Cotto. "By incorporating the RAIL devices into our service, our wait staff can spend more time attending to guests," says Ethan. "Additionally, our guests can have the peace of mind that their card information will never be compromised.”
Another question that arises is what happens if you spill water on an electronic bill? Viableware CEO, Joe Snell tells that even ketchup is no problem; the system was designed for the “typical wear and tear in a restaurant environment.” Talking about the user experience of using RAIL, Joe says “Initial results are encouraging as over 90 percent of the people are taking our onscreen surveys, which include questions about the restaurant and about how easy it is to use the system.”
In one of the recent development i.e. on October 1st, 2013 PayPal and Viableware teamed up to streamline digital payments at Full-Service Restaurants like Dickie Brennan’s Tableau Restaurant.Team Lets Talk Payments interviewed Kathy Chui, PayPal Spokesperson and Joe Snell, CEO Viableware to discuss about the new developments and the payments industry. You can read about the interview here.
LTP View: Viableware is developing an ecosystem and not just a product and this could lead it to take on the big players of payment systems though in a niche area. The platforms’ innovative approach to complement the waiter’s role may see a faster adoption. The challenge for RAIL may be convincing restaurants to make the initial investments and show them the long term benefits arising from it.