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Apple Pay Aims at Food Trucks With New Mobile Payment Device

Lil Burma and Tacos el Tuca are the first in the country to use the technology.

Lil Burma
Lil Burma
Gary Stevens/Flickr

While San Francisco has recently been rightfully recognized as America's number one food city, it's still known (for better or worse) as a leader in the tech industry. Which is, of course, a double-edged sword— who else will can pay for these $200+ tasting menus popping up around town?

So obviously when Apple reached out about some potentially food-related tech news, Eater was interested— food and technology is only becoming more inextricably entwined with each startup and app launch. We agreed to meet at the SoMa StrEat Food Park for an under-the-radar meeting with Jennifer Bailey, Apple's VP of ApplePay to find out more.

As it turns out, Apple has partnered with Michigan-based North American Bancard to introduce the PayAnywhere Mobile credit card reader to the market. The device, which is currently only available for iOS and sold exclusively in Apple stores, plugs into a merchants iPad or iPhone to turn it into an Apple Pay-equipped machine. To demonstrate, Bailey purchased lunch for a group of hungry reporters at the Lil Burma food truck, by magically flourishing her iPhone 6 and Apple Watch at the reader to complete the transaction. (If the ease of technology wasn't a solid endorsement on its own, Lil Burma's tasty samosa salad surely didn't hurt.) Tacos el Tuca and Lil Burma have the distinction as the first merchants in the country to adopt the PayAnywhere device, which is so, so San Francisco.

Security and ease of use for customers (plus the disconnection from actual currency that often encourages higher spending for some) seems like a decent reason for merchants like food trucks (or any business that requires mobile transactions) to adopt the technology. Additionally, for non-Apple customers, the reader still has card reader abilities that can be used with any card accepted by the merchant. On the retail side, it's currently cheaper than the impending model from Square ($39.99 for the PayAnywhere device versus $49.99 for Square's); they're also offering free transactions on merchants' first $5,000 in sales, waiving the usual 2.69 percent fee per transaction.

For anyone who's been to a food truck event like Off the Grid, shaving valuable seconds off of each transaction might just make enough of a difference in reducing long lines for burritos or crépes or whatever food-on-a-stick that is currently on offer.

So food truck operators, juice kiosks, farmers market sellers and restaurants: is this a thing? Tell us what you think of this technology upgrade in the comments.