An app- etite for cheaper din­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SOPHIE ELSWORTH

DIN­ING out can be ex­pen­sive, but now many food­ies are be­ing re­warded sim­ply for eat­ing at a restau­rant.

Aus­tralians spend about $ 45 bil­lion a year win­ing and din­ing at restau­rants, which prompted Grace Wong to de­velop free app Liven, al­low­ing money to be tipped back into a cus­tomer’s pocket.

The app al­ready has 100,000 users and more than 600 restau­rants on board in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne. Ms Wong said there were plans to roll it out na­tion­ally and for it to be­come as well known as ride- shar­ing app Uber, where no cash was re­quired to pay.

Din­ers can click a but­ton for the bill when they’re done, and re­ceive up to 30 per cent back on their bill. There’s also room for users to throw in an elec­tronic tip.

“It re­wards din­ers with a cash credit when they pay for their meals through the app, which they can use to pay the next time they dine,” Ms Wong said.

“It’s rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way we dine, from restau­rant dis­cov­ery through to cash­less bill pay­ment.”

Liven gives cus­tomers a per­cent­age of their to­tal bill back, which they are cred­ited with to use at the next eatery they choose in Liven’s net­work. The app also gives the restau­ra­teur a com­mis­sion each time it’s used.

Liven user Dagny Rocha, 26 said it al­lowed her to make some money back sim­ply by do­ing what she would al­ready be do­ing – eat­ing out.

“I dine out about one or two times a week and spend about $ 150. You get re­warded for din­ing out or you can do­nate the money you get cred­ited at the end to char­ity,” she said. “Who doesn’t like get­ting credit back and be en­cour­aged to go out again? It’s also a way of get­ting a dis­count and takes it off your last bill.”

Con­sumer fi­nance ex­pert Lisa Mont­gomery said for peo­ple who dine out a lot, this type of app was “ap­peal­ing” and could save cash.

“Food is such a com­mod­ity – we have a bar and restau­rant cul­ture and we love that good feel­ing of eat­ing and drink­ing amaz­ing things,’’ she said.

I tri­alled the app, hop­ping be­tween three Mel­bourne eater­ies and found it rel­a­tively easy to set up and use. I ex­pect it will be­come pop­u­lar, but food­ies need to watch out be­cause it may re­sult in them spend­ing more money and eat­ing out more fre­quently.

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