GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) — Local startup company Tabbi launched a social fintech app that helps customers pay tabs at bars and restaurants without the wait.
The company is run by Brad Loflin who said he came up with the idea while working in the service industry and noticing how long it took for customers to pay their bills, especially in crowded bars.
“If you think about the first when you walk up to a bar, the first transaction that happens is ‘What do you want to drink?’ And then ‘Do you want to start a tab?’ Which is when you first present your credit card for pre-authorization. We eliminate that step,” he said.
7NEWS sat down with Loflin to discuss his social payment app, Tabbi.
“I was traveling for work in May of 2020 and going in and out of hotels, restaurants, airports . . . the constant collection of transaction receipts was kind of a huge pain point. So as I was closing my tab one night at a restaurant, I had an Uber waiting out front. My friend was waiting in the Uber to make sure that it doesn’t leave.
“And, you know, it’s one of the places that have your card in the jail or they put your card behind the bar. And so I think I waited 15 minutes to close my tab that night and then got handed a wet receipt that I didn’t sign. I got in that Uber thinking, why can I not close my bar tab as easy as I can get out of this Uber. The payment is automatic. The Uber driver gets paid. I can leave a review. I can leave a tip. Why is that not the same in hospitality?
“So that was about two years ago. So we set out to start to build that process that will fix that problem. And so we built Tabbi, and as Tabbi evolved, we started to build more around it to make it more social.
“So really turned into kind of the app that I wanted that was 25. The idea that I can know where my friends are, be able to buy them a drink when I’m not able to go out or be able to meet new people that are near me, see mutual friends and maybe make a connection that I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
“Somewhat humanizing that experience of digital introductions and then seamless contactless payment. So open and close a tab and move. Then have my receipt so my receipt can automatically be exported to Expensify or QuickBooks. We can integrate right into the point of sale and it’s completely free for the bar and restaurant.
“So [restaurants and bars] do have to enroll. They just have to reach out to us and say, “We want your product.” It’s about a 30-minute install in the back of house, and then they can process transactions on legacy hardware.
How it works
“When you walk up to a bar, the first transaction that happens is, ‘What do you want to drink?’ And then, “Do you want to start a tab?” Which is when you first present your credit card.
“So then they pre-authorize your card. But with Tabbi, we eliminated that step because you’re able to check in to that restaurant and we store your card information in a completely compliant PCI vault such as Uber. So you can open a tab. You walk up to the bar and say, ‘My name’s Brad Loflin. I’d like a bourbon and Coke.’ They already have my information.
“I order my drinks, they add the drink, and that’s the end of the server transaction. I can then see my tab and close it seamlessly. We still want the human connection with the bartender or server, but we’re just allowing them to do what they do really well, which is to provide great drinks, great food and great service.
“They don’t have to deal with the transaction. You can see people that are nearby and the idea of finding your friends and seeing people nearby but in a very secure way. So if we’re not friends on the platform, then I can only see your first name and I don’t even know exactly where you’re at. I just know that you’re within five or six miles of me and I can see what mutual places we like, what mutual friends we like, a small profile, send a message.
“Kind of the fun thing about it is if you’re not friends on the platform, you only get one message a day. So if you’re near [someone new], you can only send them one message. So you better draft it correctly.
“I think as a single guy previous to being married, it was the constant swiping to match was just a pain. And then once you match, you’re in a week-long conversation on a text to maybe meet up and then and then to find out that there is no chemistry, and maybe you don’t look like your picture from five years ago on your profile.
“Whereas with Tabby, it’s, it’s an instant human connection. Digital introduction. I still don’t have to have the confidence to walk over there. I can still send a message and say, Hey, can I buy you a drink? But now we’re in the same place. Let’s meet at the bar,” he said.