Back in February, OpenTable started a pilot program in San Francisco of a new payment processing feature. After a long delay, recent emails to NYC restaurateurs suggest that OpenTable mobile payments may be expanding and potentially going national soon.

During the pilot program, OpenTable payment processing system works through the current network of restaurants who take reservations from OpenTable. Using the OpenTable’s iPhone app, diners at select restaurant in San Francisco could input their credit card and pay using the app at the end of their meal.

When Will OpenTable Mobile Payments Go National?

Up to this point, the roll out has almost non-existent, but that is likely to change.

Mobile payments always seemed like the next step for OpenTable, as they dominate online restaurant reservations across the United States (having about half of the market). OpenTable had bought Just Chalo, a company that developed that mobile payment technology in June of 2013. It seemed like it was only a matter of time.

Now mobile payments through OpenTable looks like it will happen. With Priceline purchase of OpenTable, many of these initiatives will likely be moved forward or abandoned. OpenTable is notoriously slow in adapting to business conditions. On the other hand, Priceline has more resources and will probably expedite many OpenTable projects.

Of course, OpenTable has never been known for the best mobile apps, so pulling this off was no small feat.

Benefits of OpenTable Mobile Payment Processing

Rather than waiting on checks, restaurant diners would be able to pay their bill through the app, reviewing the bill and putting in the tip. This would make dining out easier for the customer and with enough usage and familiarity speed up the dining process (once the staff incorporates it).

There was alway the issue of how the restaurant would be notified that the payment went through. From OpenTable’s description, OpenTable mobile payment system goes directly through a restaurant’s POS system by way of an icon. The compatibility with POS systems what is still not public knowledge so stay tuned as restaurants start joining up and become more familiar with the system.

During the pilot program, many praised the idea and the program. And there was not a wave of complaints of it not working. Of course, many smartphone users are skeptical about entering in their credit card information to their phones. Understandably so.

A Different OpenTable

But this system makes sense for frequent diners who use OpenTable. It may also catch on, especially if OpenTable’s brand becomes more high profile, now that Priceline owns them. So although it may add convenience for both restaurant owners and diners, the success of the mobile payment system may mean that restaurant owners will have a greater reliance on OpenTable.

Image courtesy of  Rasmus Thomsen at