Cashless Innovation With Wagamamago

by Caity Dalby, Content Manager, Figaro Digital

We are teetering on the edge of becoming an entirely cashless society, and in some industries, even a cardless society. In an age of increasing technology speeds, shortening patience and attention spans, growing disposable incomes, and a need for instant gratification, companies are having to innovate to keep up with their competitors and changes in consumer spending habits.

As Emma Woods, customer director at wagamama, has stated, “Customers are accustomed to one-click payments for online retailers and walk out payments from Uber, but there hasn’t been an app offering all of these functions for restaurants.”  British headquartered food-chain, wagamama, is running head first towards innovation and the future of cashless transactions, not only in food delivery, but in dine-in transactions.

Based on Japanese and Pan-Asian cuisine, wagamama’s central philosophy of ‘kaizen’ – meaning ‘good change’ – not only shapes every dish they create but also pushes them to find better ways to do what they do best: providing a seamless and enjoyable dining experience. This is nowhere more apparent than in the release of their new app earlier this year, the revolutionary walk-out payment app wagamamago. Hailed as the first ‘Uber for diners’, the cashless payment app – created in partnership with Mastercard – will reportedly save British customers an average of 12 minutes at every meal.

“We wanted to bring truly frictionless payment to restaurants as we know waiting for the bill is frustrating, why shouldn’t you be able to get up and go when you are ready: well, now you can. No more waving your hand in the air, trying to catch the waiter’s eye, once you’re ready you just go, and customers are automatically charged with the receipt emailed directly.” Emma Woods, customer director, wagamama

So many aspects of our everyday lives are in the midst of transforming to cashless or contactless experiences, from ecommerce, retail, travel, and in-person purchases, to fast food and takeaway dining. Additionally, the use of apps to promote brands and companies, whilst encouraging digital engagement and purchases, has become one of the biggest trends in digital marketing. Webuyanycar, GoCompare, and even Tesco, are just a few examples of less traditionally app focused businesses making the leap in the last five years.

For the first time, customers can dine at a restaurant in the same stress-free way people take an Uber, tap into the tube, or buy music. By developing the revolutionary technology needed for the app, wagamama have created a truly seamless payment experience that allows automatic payments to be made directly from the app, without the need to wait for the bill whilst keeping the invaluable interaction with wagamama wait-staff. This is the first time a restaurant has offered a ‘walk out’ payment option, and it will only ensure that the brand’s public image and revenue will keep on increasing year-on-year.

Inspiration For Dining Innovation – Why An Automatic Payment App

wagamama’s CIO, Richard Tallboy, realised the need for an alternative method of payment when visiting wagamama’s busiest restaurant at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Watching as time-poor diners wanted (or desperately needed) to leave after meals, Richard was inspired and determined to recreate that Uber walk away experience in wagamama’s restaurants. There are various ways that restaurants have been attempting to innovate the speed and efficiency of the dining experience, however Tom’s vision was not about rushing the meal, removing interaction with wait-staff, or changing the quality of a wagamama dining experience, it was about giving control and choice to the customer to simply leave once they had finished their meal.

“After the initial idea we used market research to identify what the customer wanted and the stress-free bill experience was very important. We wanted to make the dining experience easier and still retain the interaction of the waiter because we didn’t want a restaurant full of people ordering food on their mobile devices and not enjoying the experience. Getting the bill is the last thing a customer experiences and it was important that this be quick and stress free for our customers.” Richard Tallboy, CIO, wagamama

In light of this, wagamama settled on an automatic payment app that would fulfil the needs of their customers. The wagamamago app was developed in partnership with Mastercard, a multinational financial services cooperation which processes 65,000 secure transactions a minute, and this partnership was paramount to the apps success. Mastercard are on the frontline of the cashless future and are working to prove the effectiveness of electronic payments and their ability to optimise every aspect of our lives. The Mastercard checkout process, which uses the Masterpass digital wallet, is supported by the highest levels of security and cryptology.

The wagamamago app works by prompting you to set up a qkr! account – qkr! is provided by mastercard – and once set up you can make your ‘walk out payment’ using any visa, mastercard, or american express payment card. When using the app in-restaurant, diners will also have access to added benefits including free size-ups and easy payment splitting – even if they are splitting with someone paying with cash or by card.

“We want to make payments easier than ever, whilst also keeping them secure. We are bringing our digital ordering and payment technology – Qkr – into an app tailor-made for wagamama’s loyal customers. We can adapt this technology to any kind of restaurant and wagamama is the first to use it in this way, allowing customers to order from phones, and simply walk away.” Jennifer Macrae, Vice President, Product Innovation at Mastercard

wagamama and Mastercard are leading the way when it comes to transforming the dine-in restaurant experience, and surely it won’t be very long before others follow suit.