OpenTable is trying to kill the credit card. After months of testing, the reservation-booking company is bringing its pay-by-phone feature to New York City, with plans to add restaurants in 20 more cities by the end of the year.
Now when you make a reservation at one of several participating restaurants through OpenTable's iPhone app, you'll be able to settle your bill at the end of the meal with just a few taps on your phone. The company has been working with several high-profile restaurants in San Francisco to work out the kinks, and is now partnering with New York favorites like Il Buco, Café Cluny, and Lafayette. See the full list of restaurants here.
OpenTable is by far the biggest company tackling mobile payments at restaurants, though startups like Dash and Cover launched before the restaurant behemoth introduced its in-app payment program. Those apps have features that set them apart from OpenTable, like bill-splitting and Bluetooth check-ins, and they're both available for Android users to boot. Like OpenTable, Cover is working with restaurants in New York and San Francisco--and I would argue that their stable of partner eateries is more impressive (hello, Charlie Bird and Estela). Dash is currently only available in New York.
But OpenTable is the only app that lets you manage the dining-out process from start to finish. Now you can book a table and pay without having to deal with any other service, make a phone call, or fish out your credit card. It's a familiar service to those of us accustomed to booking tables, and on the back end, the company's integration with 31,000 restaurants gives it an advantage over fresh-faced startups.
Mobile payments haven't caught on with users yet, but with OpenTable ramping up its efforts, the Seamless-ization of dining out may soon be upon us.