This article is part of NRN’s guide to mobile payment and ordering for the restaurant industry.
Paying by mobile still isn’t as easy as cash. Maybe it never will be.
As a quick-service restaurant consumer, I’ve been slow to get on the mobile-payment bandwagon — cashing in an occasional online Starbucks gift card had been my limit until this month.
I still find foldable bills and a pocket of change remain a serviceable way to buy anything priced at less than $10. Alexander Hamilton is a useful paper president, in my mind, and he doesn’t require me to enter a password — which I may or may not remember — every time I want to use him.
So when my colleague Mark Brandau reported in mid-March that Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. was rolling out to its 5,800 U.S. units a new mobile payment smartphone app, I decided it was time to dip my toes into the mobile stream.
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It took me a few minutes to download it from the Apple App Store — not because of a slow WiFi connection, but because several versions of “Wendy’s App” show up when you search for it at the store.
The app downloaded to my phone easy-peezy, but then I had to create a “My Wendy’s” account profile with an email address. (I have one for online stuff, because I hate the follow-up spam.) My first password didn’t have enough capitals and characters, so I spent a few more minutes getting that part right. I was speaking in !@#$%$% by that time.
I also had to create a security word, so henceforth I’ll have to be stretched on a medieval rack before I’ll give up the name of my favorite third-grade teacher. (Actual question.)
I entered credit card data, my billing address and then I got to choose whether I wanted to put $25, $50, $75 or “Other” on the card. My test run got the lowest figure, so Wendy’s is now guaranteed at least three more visits from me to spend my remaining $18.19. The app alone may increase frequency.
A confirmation email was sent to my throw-away address, and I headed off to the nearest Wendy’s to spend the money on my app.
I arrived at the counter, placed my order for a spicy chicken sandwich and asked the 17-year-old cashier if I could use my new app to pay for the meal. Daniel had to get a shift manager and another manager to show him how to do it, and by that time the app had timed out. I re-entered my email and password, slid the lever to pay and a six-digit code came up. The code remains on the screen for five minutes, with a countdown clock to show you when it expires. So make sure you don’t dawdle.
The cashier entered that six-digit number into the point-of-sale register, and I was now the proud owner of a sandwich, fries, small drink, phone app and more than $18 to spend the next time. The receipt also prints the app user’s account balance.
Altogether, it was a pleasant experience, and I enhanced my street cred in the eyes of a 17-year-old employee, who is probably closer to the target demographic for this means of payment than I am.
Daniel’s comment when I showed him the mobile payment app was, “That’s tight!”