After EMV, a New Approach
Tablesafe’s timing worked against it when it designed a magstripe product ahead of the EMV shift. Nevertheless, the situation helped the company prepare for the next wave of payments technology.
It’s been nearly six years in the making, but Tablesafe has the EMV certification it has long needed to make its pay- at- thetable Rail platform a future-proof option for restaurants. Seattle-based Tablesafe was prepared to launch the Rail five years ago under the company’s previous name Viableware, as a device housed in a patented billfold that replicates the traditional leather booklet used at restaurants to deliver a guest’s check before wait staff takes the payment card back to a point of sale terminal.
At the time, the premise was fairly simple. After a year of developing the technology to create some efficiency for restaurant operations, Tablesafe felt it had a product late in 2012 that also would eliminate the diner’s fear of card skimming when the card left the table for payment.
“Then the card companies revealed they were coming out with EMV (chip cards), and suddenly this new product we were releasing was obsolete,” said Steve Mckean, president of Tablesafe. “We had no choice but not to release the product at that time.”
In hindsight, the timing couldn’t have been better, Mckean said. Had Tablesafe already launched its product and had a large customer base using it, the time and effort to upgrade to EMV could have been devastating for the company.
“We went down the path to EMV, but also learned along the way that it just couldn’t be EMV now either,” Mckean said. “There were other payment capabilities coming to market and we had to understand how to engage with mobile payments and contactless cards.”
The company began talking about the new capabilities of what it was calling Rail 2 five months ago in preparation for its launch announcement this week.
The result now is that Tablesafe’s Rail platform is certified through the Creditcall omnichannel gateway for EMV and signature, and also includes a Near Field Communication chip for mobile and contactless payments, a camera to read QR codes, and Bluetooth to help restaurant owners recognize customers at the time they are dining. Payments and EMV technology provider Cardtek is also partnering with Tablesafe for the Rail launch.
Rail 2’s proximity technology allows location-based messages and marketing, a promise of the original Rail concept — that the platform would help restaurant owners mine, manage and monetize customer data.
“We really had to position this as an effective platform for the future and one that restaurants could grow with over time,” Mckean added.
Potential clients and investors have been patient in waiting for Tablesafe to debut its latest version of Rail.