Paying at a Safe Distance: How to navigate Contact-Free In-Restaurant Payment during COVID-19 and Beyond



From implementing traffic limits to installing plexiglass shields to protect customers and staff, COVID-19 is rapidly changing the way restaurants operate under new regulations.

With COVID-19 and the evolving health and physical distancing guidance, payments are another area that is top of mind for both guests and restaurants, seeking comfort, safety and speed at the time of purchase.

The use of contact free payments is on the rise as more and more people refuse to handle cash or keypads on credit-card readers. Many businesses, including Walmart in the US, have started the shift from hardware payment terminals to accepting QR Code based payments, allowing customers to pay completely free of contact.


COVID-19 is making touch-free payments no longer an option, but a necessity. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on plastic like credit cards and payment terminals for up to 3 days.

As you make plans to re-open your business and look for ways to improve safety for your customers and staff, consider upgrading to no-touch, contact free payments for your restaurant.

Payment must shift from close physical proximity with cashiers and frequent contact with germ-spreading shared payment devices to a “zero contact” payment model that maintains physical distancing during every transaction.

Contact-free payments are quick, efficient and can be made at a safe physical distance. The ability to quickly pay from a safe physical distance can provide your customers with a better experience and help reduce the anxiety of paying in-restaurant with the present COVID-19 crisis and post pandemic .


“Contact Free” payments are different from the often used term “contactless” payments which has become synonymous with the use of tapping plastic credit cards or closely hovering a  smartphone over a credit card reader.

Tapping a plastic credit card or closely hovering a smartphone on a hardware device still requires you to be in close proximity to the hardware device and  the cashier. Further, if the payment is in excess of the limit for contactless payment, the customer is required to either key in a pin on a pin pad or provide their signature by using a stylus or finger.

Contactless payment providers recognise this problem with their hardware devices and have been instructing their merchants to practice regular disinfection of their payment terminals and asking merchants to use “creative solutions” to address this problem. Frankly, this does not solve the issue.

The good news is that a better solution exists.

Contactless payment providers recognise this problem with their hardware devices and have been instructing their merchants to practice regular disinfection of their payment terminals and asking merchants to use “creative solutions” to address this problem. Frankly, this does not solve the issue.

The good news is that a better solution exists.


With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, physical distancing and avoiding touching contaminated surfaces have never been more important. In order for restaurants to continue generating sales, they need digital and contact free payments to make sure that guests stay safe and can make payments from a distance. And for this, QR Codes are exactly the right tool for the job.

Pay By QR
Pay By NFC

A QR Code, or Quick Response Code, is a Code that is quickly readable by a smartphone (hence the word “quick” in the name). Using a combination of spacing as a type of barcode, when a QR Code is scanned, it conveys a wide range of information. QR Codes have many uses across all types of industries such as retail, healthcare, marketing, and mobile payment.

QR Codes can be both static or dynamic. 

Dynamic codes are the type described below under the heading “PAYING AND ORDERING AT-THE-TABLE” and are for a specific payment amount determined by the restaurant.

Static QR codes are created in advance, and can be printed out and placed near the cash register. The static codes contain a “Merchant Identifier”.  Once scanned by the buyer, they enter the payment amount on the smartphone, which is then processed when they press the “Pay” button.

Essentially, the payment process for QR Codes payment is as follows:

1.  The seller creates a QR code and shows it to the buyer.

2.  The buyer scans the QR code using their app  and clicks the “Pay” button.

3. The monetary transfer is sent from the buyer’s credit card or bank account to the seller’s account.

4. The seller receives a payment confirmation and the payments system issues a digital receipt to the buyer.

By downloading the Perk Hero app, restaurants can convert a smartphone or tablet into a device that can accept safe and contact free payments by scanning QR codes.


Pay at the Table

Under new operating guidelines for COVID-19, restaurants must minimize the number of items on the table, including menus, and guests and staff must maintain physical distance. Restaurants can now use QR Code technology to enable your guests to pay from table.

QR Sticker on Table

The payment process for paying at-the-table works simply as follows:

1. The guest can either scan the QR code sticker on a table or take a photo of a paper bill.

2. The guest clicks “Pay Now”:  enters the bill amount, selects the tip option, and pays.

3. The restaurant immediately receives the payment notification, which shows up on their iPad or smartphone along with a customer ID, which generates valuable data for analytics purposes all while keeping guests and employees safe.


When a guest comes to the counter, the cashier can simply key in the amount for the purchase and generate a QR Code on the merchant’s smartphone or tablet which can then be scanned by the customer from a safe physical distance.

QR Payment Screen
Payment History Screen

Perk Hero also offers restaurants a static QR code option with a payment stand that can feature a QR payment code with a unique merchant ID that customers can scan from six feet away with our Perk Hero app. The customer then keys in their payment amount and hits ‘pay’ and again the merchant immediately receives notification of the payment through their tablet or smartphone.


With the Perk Hero platform you will be able to accept the following payment methods from your customer’s smartphone:

  • Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay, Visa & Visa Debit, Mastercard & Mastercard Debit and American Express


Perk Hero is available for free download on the Apple App and Google Play stores:

By downloading Perk Hero, restaurants can quickly and easily convert a smartphone or tablet into a device that can accept safe and contactless mobile orders and payments.

After you’ve downloaded the app, just follow the instructions outlined at this link to get setup: https://perkhero.com/help-center-merchants/#becomemerchant

Perk Hero’s friendly Customer Support team, based in Canada, are available to assist our merchants and users with any questions.


Contact free payments have already become the new normal in China and its use is now skyrocketing in North America. In the US, huge retailers like Walmart have already started adopting QR code payments. 

At Perk Hero, supporting local restaurants is in our DNA and at the core of what we do. All of the software and tools we have built have been designed with supporting small businesses in mind and providing them with the tools to compete with bigger competitors. We believe that it is important for local restaurants to adopt these new digital technologies to provide customers with the type of customer experience that they expect and are now becoming accustomed to as part of a safe business environment.  We have built the tools to make it very easy for entrepreneurs to adopt digital, non-cash payment by QR codes: entrepreneurs do not need expensive equipment, and no payment terminals. All that’s needed is a smartphone, which almost everyone has today.


Perk Hero offers a lot more than just contact free payments – our app is an all-in-one mobile ordering, contact free payment, and  digital loyalty platform. 

By using our app you will also gain access to an unrivaled comprehensive suite of features including an advanced mobile ordering system for pre-order and curbside pick-up and one of the most powerful digital loyalty programs that exists on the market. Further, you will also have access to analytics and reporting tools that you can use to track your revenue growth and mobile transactions.


Call 1-855-661-3722 or email [email protected] and our team will be happy to help you with setting up your business to accept Contact Free payments in as quickly as 24 hours!