Viableware, a company comprised of techies and restaurant vets, is currently piloting a device that in size resembles the typical check wallet you get at the end of your meal but contains a mini-computer that will let you pay at your table without having to give the waiter a credit card. The device, called the RAIL, also contains an auto-tip calculator and a bill-splitting feature, as well as the ability to give you your receipt on paper or in an e-mail. Restaurants can add custom features as well, such as a valet service alert or a quick user survey.
Subscribe for counterintuitive, surprising, and impactful stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday
What’s the Big Idea?
Besides allowing you to keep your credit card in your hand, the RAIL provides extra transaction security by encrypting the card information. This eliminates skimming, benefiting restaurants, which can spend thousands of dollars in audit fees. The RAIL does keep track of past purchases, so it’s also possible you may see some specially targeted ads. However, Viableware CEO Joe Snell says they’re optional: “All of this flashes up on the screen after you’ve paid your bill, so if you want, you can just shut the book and leave because you’ve already paid.” The RAILs are scheduled for a national rollout this January.