Pay-at-the-Table Technology Offers Restaurants and Developers New Opportunities

Pay-at-the-Table technology provides diners with prompt, contactless service and allows the payment card to never leave customer’s sight.


Paying at the table is becoming a more popular way to pay at restaurants in the U.S., and the reasons are clear: it’s quicker, more convenient, more secure for restaurant-goers, and streamlines servers’ workflows, further enhancing customer experiences.

Developers creating point of sale (POS) applications for the restaurant industry can quickly code smart terminals to accept pay-at-the-table transactions by leveraging SDKs for Android or PAX Smart Terminals. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and merchants will find that today’s smart terminals increase pay-at-the-table security, improve efficiency in restaurants, and cut down on fraud.

How Pay-at-the-Table Works

At the end of a meal, a customer traditionally handed a payment card to a server who took it to a POS terminal to complete the transaction. With a pay-at-the-table solution, however, the server brings a payment device to the customer and eliminates the need to walk to a stationary terminal and wait in line behind other servers to complete transactions.

Devices can be equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology so that the customer can tap or wave a contactless payment card or smartphone with a mobile wallet app near the device to make the payment, creating a quick, easy, and hygienic way to pay.

Restaurant clients also have other options for creating a pay-at-the-table experience. For example, some restaurants deploy tabletop devices that customers can use to pay, disinfecting them between uses. This option gives guests the convenience to pay and leave the restaurant when they’re ready, rather than waiting for a server to help them settle their checks. Additionally, it eliminates the need for servers to handle transactions, giving them more time to spend on other aspects of their jobs.

Alternatively, restaurants can print QR payment codes on their customers’ receipts. Then, to settle a check, a restaurant-goer scans the code with a smartphone camera to go to a payment page and complete the transaction, much like paying for an online order. The downside to this payment method is that transactions are processed as “card-not-present” payments, and the merchant pays higher processing fees. Fortunately, innovators are working to address that issue so that QR code payments accepted in the future can be processed at “card-present” rates.

In general, any pay-at-the-table technology is more secure — customers’ payment cards never leave their sight, so they know their account numbers aren’t compromised.

ISV and Developer Opportunities

The pandemic took a large toll on the restaurant industry, from dining room shutdowns in the early days of COVID-19 to the necessity to invest in safety measures to stay operational. Restaurants determined to recover and succeed continue to look for new ways to improve efficiency and remain profitable.

ISVs can help their clients reach those goals by developing an application that enables restaurant staff to take orders from the same device that accepts payments at the table, customizing the app to meet the specific needs of a restaurant chain. This solution eliminates steps and saves time by immediately transmitting orders to kitchen printers or a kitchen display system (KDS). Then, when guests are ready to pay, servers can complete transactions in one step — no walking back and forth to a terminal or waiting in line to use it. Developers can even design a solution that is so efficient that it helps restaurants increase table turns or ease some of the burden created by the labor shortage, since one server may be able to manage more tables at a time.

As you optimize your solution, however, remember payment technology’s role in transactions that can cap off a great dining experience with fast, easy, contactless payments.

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Learn More

North American Bancard provides its ISV partners with the Payanywhere Mobile SDK, which enables restaurants to accept card-present payments through your custom mobile app and a device such as the PAX A920 Pro. This SDK is pre-certified for EMV transactions, enables tokenized transactions, and makes payments integration easy. Contact North American Bancard to learn more.


This article was originally published on

Michael McIlroy and the Payments Hub Developers

Michael McIlroy is a sales engineering manager at North American Bancard.

Zebra MC9400
Michael McIlroy and the Payments Hub Developers

Michael McIlroy is a sales engineering manager at North American Bancard.