At first glance, a cashless restaurant may seem impossible from an operational and customer service standpoint. But as credit and debit cards and other mobile payment technology improves and makes substantial gains in popularity, it may not be a completely unattainable goal after all.
A Gallup survey found that the number of Americans using cash for nearly all purchases dropped from 36 to 24 percent. And 12 percent reported that they don't use cash at all.
As more restaurants make the switch to cashless, like Chicago's Bonci Pizzeria and six Argo Tea locations did in April of last year, the pros and cons of going cashless have become a hot topic among restaurateurs. Many of those are listed below, and at the end of the article, industry insiders voice their opinions too.
Pro: Theft and Robbery Deterrent.
Restaurants, unfortunately, can be susceptible to employee theft as well as robberies, prompting many operators around the globe to turn to a cashless system. Making the switch not only acts as a theft and robbery deterrent, but in the same turn, it can help shield your employees and customers from experiencing the fallout of such crimes.
Con: Higher Processing Fees.
In a mixed payment system, credit card processing fees can account for a significant portion of your expenses. But in a cashless system, that percentage can be amplified as it applies to every single transaction. While you may be able to negotiate a more favorable fee structure, you should be prepared to either take a hit to your bottom line, raise prices to cover the expense, or find another way to balance the cost.
For some, Visa's new program may help offset the expenses associated with going cashless. Called the Visa Cashless Challenge, it's a program where 50 U.S.-based small businesses in the food service industry can receive $10,000 each if they commit to going cashless.
Pro: Faster Transactions.
Cashless transactions have the potential to be faster than cash transactions. Pull out the card or phone. Tap, swipe, slide or scan and be on your way. While there can be fumbling with the card, counting out cash and change — both from the customer and employee side — can slow down each transaction, causing unnecessary service delays. Sweetgreen, a fast casual salad chain, has reported a 5 to 15 percent hourly increase in transactions since going cashless.