Recent moves from Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Panera indicate that restaurant brands are implementing mobile initiatives at increasing rates. Operators that want to join the race to roll out mobile ordering or payment solutions should first consider the following questions.

5 questions on mobile payments

1. Do you invest in your own hardware and/or software?

“In some cases, it might make more sense for the restaurant to develop its own software, their own app, their own proprietary approach to it,” said Aaron Allen, a consultant with Aaron Allen & Associates LLC. “In other cases, it might make more sense to connect into existing technologies out there and use APIs [application program interfaces] to make the two talk.”

2. Who is going to host, manage and process payments?

Some restaurant operators choose to use existing services such as Google Wallet, Apple’s Passbook, Square or PayPal, Allen said.

3. What data are you getting? Who owns the data? Where is it stored?

The potential for data mining and drawing on demographic data is something a midsized restaurant operator might want to have in-house, Allen said.

4. How safe and secure is the data? What are the security levels?

Payment processing security is paramount, and operators must have clear assurances that their customers’ data is secure, Allen said.

5. What are the transaction costs?

If using a third party, transaction costs can vary widely. Allen urged operators of all sizes to shop around and weigh all factors.