1. F&B industry goes mobile

F&B industry goes mobile

Entrepreneurs in the food space are pushing m-commerce as the preferred mode of payment.

By: | Published: August 17, 2015 1:00 AM

Who knew that a time will come when you no longer will have to wait for hours in a restaurant for the waiter to bring your bill, when you can just check out at your own convenience through your own smartphone, and that’s what startups like

Momoe and Binge are all about. These mobile payment apps focus on making the whole dining out experience for its users an easy and hassle-free one. Paying through smartphones is a trend that is picking up, and this is eliminating the wait for the settlement of bills like in the olden days.

Momoe, a Bengaluru-based startup which was launched last year enables its users to pay their bills at restaurants, grocery shops and recently they tied up with autorickshaw unions to help the users pay for their rides using Momoe. Backed by IDG Ventures India and Jungle Ventures, Momoe was founded by Utkarsh Biradar, Karthik Vaidyanathan, Ganesh Balakrishnan, Neelesh Bam and Aiman Ashraf after they all experienced the trouble of waiting for paying their bills at restaurants and grocery shops. “We realised that it is a major pain point especially when you are in a hurry and you just can’t leave the restaurant as soon as you are done with your meal and that’s what prompted us to come with Momoe. And now we have realised that this industry is huge and we have just scratched the surface,” says Utkarsh Biradar.

Unlike other payment apps, Momoe doesn’t force its customer to use a wallet; instead all that its user needs to do is store their credit/debit card details. It also give its users the option of splitting the bill with friends. They have partnered with around 1,000 outlets out of which 60% of them are restaurants, rest are grocery shops, apparel stores and pharmacists. “We have also taken certain areas in Bengaluru like Koramangala, Indiranagar and HSR layout as our target areas and we are working towards declaring them as cashless zones,” says Utkarsh.

Utkarsh also informs that the company doesn’t charge its merchant for signing up with them instead they have a transaction charge which is about 2-2.5%. As of now their services are limited to Bengaluru but they are planning to expand to Delhi and Mumbai in next five-six months. Momoe makes money by taking a cut from merchants for each transaction.

Another startup which follows a similar business model is Binge, founded by Santosh Martin, Christopher Lopez, Shankar Sukrutaraj, Gaurav Arora, Amit Roy & Ajay Joseph. They prefer to restrict themselves to the F&B industry because they think it is a large enough market and requires more attention. “We have also got into the reservation vertical and have taken an equity position with another company called Reservation Diary which helps our users reserve tables through the app. We are also integrating with Ola cabs so once you are finish paying your bill, it shows a cab. The idea behind is not to let our customers drink and drive,” says Santosh Martin.

In five months, they managed to get around 12,000 customers and have over 100 restaurants on board. According to Santosh, once the software of the restaurant gets in place it becomes an obstacle for others to enter the market and that gives him an edge over the others as they have already integrated with 10 software providers. He also mentions how infrastructure plays an important role and is also a challenge for this market as not many people have 3G, not every restaurant has Wi-Fi. Moreover not all of these restaurants are well versed with the technology and software. They have managed to convince six such restaurants to use their software by making them realise the convenience of going cashless.

Though this whole concept of going cashless may seem convenient and the need of the hour, investors do feel that the safety and security aspect of the whole money transaction process can pose as a major challenge for these players. “Not everyone is comfortable with storing their bank and card details with an app. This is of security concern especially when there is a chance of losing your mobile phone. I would want these startups to work closely with RBI to come out with better ways to pay through mobile phones. I use MX which doesn’t ask me for my credit card details, all that I have to do is just enter my name and then I get my OTP on my phone. I feel startups should come up with such solutions which will encourage people to opt for mobile payments,” says Nagaraja Prakasam, an angel investor, mentor and fund advisor.

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