AUSTIN, Texas No cash, no credit card? No problem.
It might not be too long before you can pay your bar tab or restaurant bill with your iPhone.
TabbedOut, developed by Austin-based start-up ATX Innovation, is a free iPhone app that stores your credit or debit card information to let you settle your tab with just a few taps on your cell phone screen.
It won't reach the East Coast, Los Angeles or the Bay Area until the summer (Seattle, Chicago, Denver and other parts of the country are on deck for later in the year). But here in Austin, at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, thousands of iPhone-toting technophiles can use it to buy food and drinks at about 30 locations.
If you're at a TabbedOut location, the app integrates with the bar's point of sale system. Once you tell the app where you are, it gives you a unique code the bar can use to ring you up.
“A lot of the real value, we think, to the bar, restaurant, even for the consumer, is that when a bar is very busy, a lot of time for the bartender is taken up by bringing someone a check. Having them sign it, swiping the card, these are parts of the system that we actually make a lot smoother,” said Jeffrey Kalikstein, co-founder of ATX Innovation. “When you’re paying by phone, the payment is being transmitted securely, directly to the point of sale system in the bar or restaurant and verified without the extra swipe and sign.”
When you're ready to split, there's no need to hail the bartender or make eye contact with your waiter.
You just pull up the application and review your tab on the screen. Once you're sure all your beers are accounted for, you choose the stored card you want to charge and hit send. If you like to keep records, you can ask TabbedOut to e-mail you the receipt.
But there is a catch — the application charges a 99-cent charge for each transaction, though the company said the fee is waived at select venues and events.