You’re done with lunch and you need to go, but now you’re waiting for the server to deliver the check, and then waiting some more while your payment is run, and waiting some more until it’s eventually returned. Why not do away with the whole unholy process by adapting E-ZPass toll technology to restaurants? An on-table payment node, the size of a saltshaker, could acquire bill information from the restaurant’s server and beam it to your mobile device. Using auto-pay, you could leave whenever you want. As for tips: either set a standard rate or manually adjust based on the level of service.
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Tim Wu is a contributing editor at The New Republic, a professor at Columbia Law School, and the author, most recently, of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.