Pay for Drinks at SXSW Using Your iPhone

Now here’s a killer app for the throngs of geeks about to descend on Austin later this week: TabbedOut. The iPhone (s AAPL) application allows users to order, review and pay for their tabs at local bars. It sounds like the perfect fix for those full-to-the-gills parties SXSW is known for. Unfortunately, TabbedOut is only available at a limited selection of venues for now — just 35 in Austin, including popular SXSW party stops The Blind Pig Club, Beerland and Mohawk.

“Having just launched in January, the integration hurdle is where we are now,” said Rick Orr, CEO of TabbedOut maker ATX Innovation, in a phone interview. But the company is trying to make the most out of an influx of its exact target audience of smartphone users at crowded bars by releasing an Android app on March 15 and handing out three free tabs to all users in Austin during SXSW.
The way TabbedOut works is you store your credit or debit card account on your phone, then file your order through the app. It pops up on the merchant’s point-of-sale system for them to fulfill your order and accept your payment (right now TabbedOut is integrated with Future POS and Jumpware). Users pay a convenience fee of 99 cents.
The concept is similar to one of my favorite iPhone apps, Taxi Magic, which lets me hail and pay for cabs without dealing with a phone dispatcher, cash or credit cards for a $1.50 fee.
Orr said that TabbedOut’s next core locations will be New York, New Jersey, LA and the San Francisco Bay Area. ATX has raised a Series A round from investors including Trellis Partners and Raven Capital Partners.
SXSW seems like an opportune time for other payments startups to have their own coming out parties. We contacted Square — the mobile transaction company founded by Jack Dorsey of previous SXSW breakout success Twitter — to ask about its SXSW plans but haven’t heard back yet.
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