Vancouver-based app allows customers to pay restaurant bills by smartphone

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WATCH: A B.C. man has invented a new app that allows people to pay their restaurant bill by taking a picture of it with their smartphone. Nadia Stewart has more – Sep 7, 2016

Vancouverites have gotten used to paying for parking on their smartphones. Now, the co-creator of the locally-based PayByPhone parking app is banking on our love of convenience in his latest venture.

Glance Pay is a mobile app for diners. Guests can use the app to pay for dinner at 46 restaurants in Vancouver. After taking a picture of the bill using the app, they enter the amount they wish to pay and are then free to leave.

According to Desmond Griffin, GlancePay co-founder and CEO, it’s the kind of payment option diners want.

“You get to leave quickly, you get automatic rewards, you get digital receipts and it’s just easier and faster to pay,” Griffin said.

Restaurants who use the app can also offer loyalty programs, Griffin said. Only major credit cards, not PayPal, are accepted payment methods.

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Griffin also said the app can help stop customers who may be tempted to dine and dash.

“All wait staff know instantly the second your payment is confirmed, they get notified instantly through their screen and they know exactly when someone has paid,” Griffin said. “Compare that to cash where if someone is pretending to put cash in the bill, you don’t know what they’ve put in or if they’ve put anything in and then staff has to walk over when they get a moment and investigate the bill.”

There are a handful of restaurant payment apps popping up across the United States and Canada. The most popular seem to be Apple Pay and the Starbucks app.

Tech expert Lindsay Smith said this kind of technology would serve Vancouver consumers well, but getting them to use it could be a challenge.

“To go to the trouble to upload your credit card and then to remember to actually do it when you are so used to these micro-behaviours all day long of tapping and tapping and tapping and tapping with a debit card or credit card and pulling that out of your wallet, you’ve got to conciously make that decision to want to adopt that behaviour,” Smith said.

While Apple Pay has been around since 2014, but it’s still not widely used in North America.

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“Only one in four people with iPhone 6s have actually used Apple Pay,” Smith said. “About 50 per cent of those people said it was just as easy to use as their debit card or more easy to use, but it’s really got to have a significant benefit in order for you to invest in changing your behaviour.”

Nuba is among the more than 40 restaurants that have signed in recent weeks. General Manager Mimo Bucko believes more customers will sign on.

“I think that’s going to be the new payment system in the future,” Bucko said. “iPhones, smartphones are being used more and more.”

Bucko said they’re averaging about 40 transactions a week.

“It helps customers’ experience that they don’t have to wait for the pinpad,” he said. “It’s just faster.”

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