Beacons and Payments: A match made in Palo Alto

Can’t beat a beacon

We’re constantly looking for the next big thing in payments. In 2014, one of these ‘next big things’ was the introduction of BLE technology into the payments landscape. Recently we sat down with Robert Scoble, author of Age of Context and one of the world’s favourite tech evangelists, and he introduced us to a relatively new start-up we think is going to be one of the next big disruptors in payments and commerce. Let us introduce you to Downtown.

Scoble gave us the low down on Downtown, how it works, and why it constitutes as a brave brand in the digital world that we live in:

“While seated at Coupa Coffee in Palo Alto you can use the Downtown app to have food and drinks delivered right to your table,” said Scoble. Not only this, but the app uses your mobile, along with the iBeacon technology to instantly purchase your order.

“It works thanks to an iPad inside near the register, as well as Bluetooth Smart Beacons (AKA iBeacons) that are in a box on top of each table.” It’s through using these beacons that your phone can use them to know what table you are sitting at.

“Already sales have increased at Coupa by 20 per cent, and this was just the first week the system was deployed.”

In addition to offering the consumer facing app that allows customers to order and pay for their meals, Downtown also has an app available for merchants. Using iBeacon technology, the Downtown app lets the restaurant know exactly what table you’re sitting at and gives the restaurant a flashing alert when a customer has placed an order.

In an interview with Techcrunch, founder Phillip Buckendorf, explained “We realised it was more difficult to buy an ice cream than make a $199 purchase at Apple. We realised this seems very broken.”

The key difference with Downtown is that it takes the idea of mobile payment and commerce a step further than any other platforms by using iBeacons to track a customer’s location.

We often ask  ‘who will win the mobile wallet war?’ My answer is the wallet that is able to integrate commerce into the wider payment experience. And it looks like Downtown has managed to do this. From your seat in Coupa Coffee you’re able to browse, purchase and enjoy. Who needs NFC anyway?

Join Robert Scoble and Phillip Buckendorf at Cards & Payments Middle East in May 2015 in Dubai. Download the sneak peek brochure here.

[Image: Jonathan Nalder- Flikr]

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