To address the growing need for more efficient retail payment services, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) launched in September the Faster Payment System (FPS), which enables users to make real-time transfers between banks and stored value facilities (SVF) or e-wallets.
The Hong Kong Economic Journal recently sat down with Chan Chi-keung, founder of local technology company Everyware, which developed the “caterlord POS”, a cloud-based point-of-sales payment software tailored for restaurants.
He told us how FPS can improve the daily operations of food and beverage outlets and open up more business opportunities.
Here are excerpts from that interview:
HKEJ: How did you come up with the idea of developing POS technology solutions for the food and beverage industry?
Chan: My family has been engaged in the catering business, so I know how staffers take orders in the restaurant, how a restaurant generates sales through its ordering system, and this practice has stayed the same for, say, 10 years. That spurred my interest and inspired me to come up with a technology solution to improve the operational efficiency for food and beverage operators.
The ordering system for restaurants has been evolving thanks to smartphones and cloud-based technology. The emergence of smartphones has inspired F&B operators to think about whether there could be a more convenient system to replace the ordering and cash machine. On the other hand, the cloud-based technology has enabled the management of restaurant chains to oversee the financial and daily operations of the business from a remote office.
In recent years, F&B operators have been turning to cloud computing and software operations to enhance management efficiency and explore new business opportunities. That’s why we have been designing a more efficient ordering system, which leverages social media platforms and e-payment technology.
Q: Fast and mobile payment tools have been gaining popularity in recent years. Does this trend bring any changes to the catering industry?
A: A few years ago, we only had Octopus and Visa PayWave for payment options, and they were not even widely adopted, as restaurants in Hong Kong had their transactions mainly by cash.
Things have changed after the two major payment service providers entered the Hong Kong market, with customers attracted by promotions and special offers these payment tools provided. Local restaurants started to introduce these new payment options in order to generate more business.
Restaurants make profits when they seat as many people as they can through the day; they want their table turnover to be as high as possible to generate higher revenues. If the restaurant provides e-payment options, which will allow customers to pay faster and easier, they can make more profit, while reducing the pressure on staff for front-line operations.
It takes about 20 seconds for a transaction by cash to be compleed, while the time span can be reduced to only 2 to 3 seconds by using the Octopus card. The e-payment options enhance the operational efficiency in restaurants, particularly during peak hours. However, F&B operators have to pay a fee for the payment services, and this is a major concern.
The Faster Payment System (FPS) recently launched by the HKMA enables F&B operators to speed up the payment transfer.
With the traditional banking and payment system in the past, restaurants, especially small-sized operators, could not use the cash to replenish inventory due to the time lag in cash flow turnover. Now, the FPS offers the operators higher flexibility in cash flow and business.
Q: Did F&B operators raise any concerns about adopting the FPS?
A: From what I’ve observed, they are mainly concerned about the account opening. Most F&B operators have their accounts in banks, so instead of opening a new e-wallet, they would prefer to adopt the FPS through banks’ digital platforms, considering the information sharing as one of the main aspects.
Besides, some of them do not have an integrated POS cash registered system. Therefore, with the payment options Alipay, WeChat Pay, and the newly added FPS – and maybe many others will follow – they may have several terminal devices at the in-store point of sale, which may become an efficiency drag for them.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 26
Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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