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Zomato expansion sees foodies going cashless on operation dinner-out

Using stored users’ credit card information on people’s smart devices, the new Zomato payments system will allow diners to pay their bill digitally.

According to a press release from Zomato, the app “will enable a diner to pay his or her bill and leave the restaurant without having to wait for the bill from the waiter, or having to wait for the cashier to swipe a bank card in an Eftpos machine to complete the transaction”.

Launching in the near future (no exact date was given) here in New Zealand, it’s a system that has already been trialled in Dubai with nearly 250 or so eateries having signed up.

Kirsty Cardy, Zomato country manager

Kirsty Cardy, Zomato country manager for New Zealand, says the uptake of the service in Dubai adheres to the typical bell-curve, with early-adopters picking it up and spreading it across their own channels.

The cashless option is part of the same package called Zomato Base, a self-contained all-in-one CMS for eateries. Electronic receipts, real time analytics and CRM are bundled with features such as menu, inventory and recipe management.

Cardy says eventually, when enough New Zealand restaurants have signed up with the service, they will be able to push out other planned features like online ordering and table reservations.

“All the menus will be digital, meaning ordering will be real-time,” says Cardy.

Introducing cashless payment is primarily a response to speeding up the service side of dining so customers can have a better overall experience, Cardy says. With paying a bill taking 10 to 15 minutes, she says the new service can cut it down to a matter of seconds.

The arrival of the new technology is also spurring Zomato’s recruitment drive for at least another hundred employees. Currently, the company is in immediate need to fill 15 positions, with many more employee opportunities coming in the future.

The on-going recruitment is a response to the introduction of not only cashless payments technology, but also the growth the company itself is experiencing.

“If we could go and get 100 [new employees] overnight, we would,” Cardy says.

“And if we had [the employees needed] we could push out all that technology instantly.”

Taking over customer service

Positioning itself as a search and discovery system, Zomato is big on being a “food-tech” platform, which means building the app into a social network for foodies.

Instead of following the likes of Yelp, which came into New Zealand the same year Zomato started here, the app allows users to search for venues with refined searches based on personal requirements, and has less emphasis on the review and scoring system Yelp is controversially known for.

Once customers have found the business they’re looking for, they’re than able to go in and see pictures, menus, and reviews, as well as connecting with the restaurant or eatery directly with in-app messages.

At the same time, Zomato also organises invite-only meet up events for power users of the app, such as dinners and parties, like its 7th birthday bash this week.

Just earlier this year, the company also teamed up with Uber, allowing users to order Uber taxis to and from their restaurant of choice within the Zomato app, all in the name of creating a better experience.

Cardy says this is all part of the plan that builds on the company’s April acquisition of MapleGraph, which forms the backbone of Zomato Base, and NexTable, a table reservation and restaurant management platform.

It means that in the future, Zomato will be able to provide users the full service from going to, ordering, payment, and returning home from a restaurant.

The India-based company, which was started in July 2008 under the name Foodiebay.com, has currently expanded to 22 countries with a pool of 62.5 million global users, and is currently ranked 926 globally in Alexa rankings.

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