In the year 2020, cash will be made obsolete and everyone will pay for their meals via smartphone — or so the recent rash of mobile payment apps targeted at restaurants would lead one to believe. One of the newer apps to emerge is called Zapper, which enables diners to pay their tab by scanning a QR code that's printed on the bill. (Yes, QR codes, those blocky barcodes that stopped just short of becoming mainstream and are probably on their way out.)
To use Zapper, debit or credit card info must first be stored on the device; Zapper's website explains that it "[doesn't] store your card details on a server somewhere where they can be hacked" but rather, "your card numbers are encrypted and stored safely on your phone." Users also have the option of splitting the bill with a dining companion, and can pick specific items to pay for rather than just dividing the check down the middle.
The app, which is currently in operation in 13 countries and available for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, launched in the U.S. earlier this year and is now accepted in 240 independent restaurants, including Austin's Hillside Farmacy; now, it's hitting the tech-crazy Bay Area.
Of course, Zapper's already got plenty of competition in the mobile payments space: Cover, which also lets users split the check and is utilized in more than 100 restaurants in NYC, L.A., and San Francisco, recently raised $5.5 million in funding; online reservations king OpenTable also launched a mobile payment service last year and is in the process of expanding it to more restaurants. For the truly impatient diner there's also Dash, which lets users pay their bill without even having to wait for the server to drop the check. And if it's fast food you're after, the iPhone-integrated Apple Pay is accepted at chains like McDonald's, Jamba Juice, and Subway, with KFC, Chili's, and Starbucks to be added in 2016.