The Future of restaurant payments

10th September 2023

The Future of restaurant payments

The global restaurant industry is moving into an exciting new era of payment innovation as the financial management and services sector responds to the supercharged impacts of a fluctuating consumer landscape. Our research reveals that consumers are already becoming more interested in next-gen payment options – the future of spending is on our doorsteps. The future of restaurant payments. 

In collaboration with global trends intelligence agency Stylus, Worldpay from FIS® has uncovered the key macro drivers, demographic nuances and new consumer trends that will define the future of payments for tomorrow’s restaurant consumers.


Shifting demographics


The global population is ageing rapidly, with the proportion of people over 65 expected to

increase from 9.3% in 2020 to 16% in 2050¹ . The number of consumers from diverse backgrounds is growing too. Businesses need to be aware of these shifts if they want to remain relevant in the future.

Alongside the shift in demographics impacting restaurant payment priorities are subtle generational nuances that dictate the experiences and needs of these different demographics.

Gen Z

Born and raised alongside major tech developments, Gen Z (1995-2009) has spent a big part of their lives online. Rather than being online-first, many are online-only, spending up to 9 hours a day online² .  As such, always-on access to anything, at any time, from anywhere is the norm for this cohort.



Millennials (1981-1994) have grown into adulthood amid the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic and have been hard hit throughout their working lives. For many, this means dealing with student loans, stagnant wages and rising costs of living. Consequently, Millennials rank financial concerns/debt and low-paying jobs/job insecurity as two of the top five problems of their generation³ . This demographic also grew up with Web 2.0 (mobile) and now Web 3.0 crypto- technologies, making them financially savvy and keen to embrace alternative payment methods and currencies to optimise often-stretched finances.


Gen X


Born in an analogue world, Gen X (1965-1980) remain somewhat attached to traditional payment methods, with more choosing physical over digital, opting for credit cards as their preferred choice4. As work and domestic responsibilities grow, they’re starting to seek out digital routes to more streamlined living. To appeal to this generation’s need for fast-paced and frictionless solutions, brands and payment merchants must offer speed and benefits such as active reward systems and seamless opt-out models.




While historically tech-shy, Boomers (1946- 1964) are an increasingly online generation, open to financial services and payment options that offer ease and security. Access to tech devices – as well as literacy on how to use them – can be major roadblocks for these consumers. To close this gap, stakeholders must empower Boomers via tech guidance, simplified user experiences and adaptive features.




For Seniors (up to 1945), longer life expectancies are leaving many feeling anxious about their economic outlook. A lack of tech awareness, access and ability is deepening concerns and leading to financial exclusion. Payment processes should be accessible, simple and secure to empower this generation and address their worries.


These generational nuances are steering new restaurant payment priorities, grouped into 4 powerful emerging trends that can be harnessed across the industry for future success.


Trend 1: Seamless and smooth


As COVID-19 catalysed digital payments, restaurant consumers expect increasingly slick and quick experiences that emphasise convenience.


The growing demand for omnichannel payment methods means restaurant brands must accept payments in multiple formats, including cryptocurrencies. The arrival of the metaverse will see restaurant payment innovation straddling the border between physical and virtual.


More efficient order-and-pay is here to stay, as safety and hygiene remain top priorities, with 67% of on-premises diners now preferring to order food digitally5. QR codes and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also streamlining payments in the restaurant space.


Trend 2: Just for me


The latest rewards programmes nurture a sense of belonging, with loyalty incentivised via tiered engagement schemes, exclusive access to events and even cryptocurrency pay-outs. 54% of consumers surveyed said it was important for restaurants, bars and cafés to offer a loyalty program. If consumers choose your business as a favourite, they will expect to be seen as a favourite in return6. Predicting dietary and entertainment needs, storing personal payment details and adding loyalty kiosks at POS are among the personalisation strategies winning customer approval in the restaurant industry. Advances in emotion-reading tech are allowing service robots to respond more empathically to patrons and take payments based on facial expressions.


Trend 3: Kind finance


Consumers are growing more wary of the impact their consumption has on the environment and those around them. Restaurant brands can reflect and respect this need for socio- and eco-friendly commitment by embedding sustainability and social action into payment journeys.

Successful initiatives are tackling income disparities, food insecurity and lack of access owing to disabilities. Those supporting local economies and communities are also poised for success, given consumers’ elevated regard for localism – a trend advanced during COVID-19. In the U.K. alone, 62% of consumers say they are actively supporting local restaurant businesses7 .


Trend 4: Life-stage support


Considering the debt pressures and smaller budgets of young adults, restaurant brands can support them with employment and offer more affordable routes to accessing healthy food.


Consumers navigating mid-life are turning to supportive restaurant brands that can provide streamlined solutions and payment models that ease their busy schedules and caregiving demands.


Over two-thirds (68%) of Boomers and Seniors are planning to go to more restaurants than they did pre-pandemic and restaurant brands must understand their payment needs8. As older cohorts grow more tech-savvy, they’re more open to digitised payments that are simple and accessible and link with their network of support.


Key takeaways


Restaurant consumers are now expecting speed and convenience as a given. QR codes, IoT (Internet of Things) devices and digital currencies will accelerate swifter, more straightforward restaurant payments. Prepare for in-metaverse transactions, as the lines between virtual and physical reality  blur.


The restaurant industry should look to leverage data analytics, AI and emotion-reading tech

to deliver greater personalisation. From pre-empting dietary and entertainment needs to customising rewards in tiered schemes, payment interactions are becoming more individualised for a sense of brand belonging.


While consumers enjoy the convenience of digital purchasing in restaurant settings, they are cautious around data harvesting practices and cybercrime. To allay concerns, merchants taking payments must recognise and avert potential dangers, reassuring patrons and prioritising data safety. Biometric authentication, AI-powered protection and blockchain-built applications are key routes to achieving this.


Generations transitioning into key life stages have nuanced needs when it comes to restaurants. Brands must consider values of convenience, education, support, accessibility and ease when developing payments around dining out and meal delivery services for different life phases.




Tomorrow’s customers are changing. Your payments should too. Equipped with a multitude of innovative payment options, restaurants have an opportunity to transform mundane purchasing moments into a seamless and satisfying consumer experience.


It’s vital to keep pace with evolving omnichannel payment methods, emerging metaverse opportunities and routes to securing payments more efficiently to attract future consumers.

Opportunities abound for personalised experiences—from next-level dining loyalty schemes to emotion-tracking restaurant service—while biometric validation will appeal to the security-conscious.


At Worldpay, we understand the need to provide a great customer experience, streamline operations, reduce costs and provide a fast, personalised service. We are a payments partner that can keep up with the evolving needs of your customers and we deliver solutions built with you in mind, so you can keep your mind on running your business.


We handle over 20,000 hospitality clients worldwide and process over US$1.7bn per month within the U.K. hospitality sector. You want to be ready for what’s coming, and we can help you make the most of the payments future. 


If you would like to know more, please contact me, Louise Binney, here.


¹ ‘UN, 2020, ‘World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights.’ un_pop_2020_pf_ageing_10_key_messages.pdf

²  ‘USwitch, 2021, in TechRound, ‘Brits Spend Up To 51% Of Their Lives In Front Of A Screen’ Brits Spend Up To 51% Of Their Lives In Front Of A Screen – TechRound

³  ‘YPulse, 2021, ‘The biggest problem Gen Z & Millennials say they are facing in 2021’.The Biggest Problem Gen Z & Millennials Say They Are Facing in 2021 – YPulse]

4 ‘MultiSafepay, 2021, ‘Generational shopping habits and trends’. Generational shopping habits and payment trends – Comparison – MultiSafepay ]

5 ‘Deloitte, 2021Deloitte: The Restaurant of the Future Should Evolve to Serve Consumers in New Ways – Press Release | Deloitte US

6 ‘CGA, 2022’ Consumer confidence grows to raise hopes for hospitality’s recovery in 2022 – CGA (]

7  ‘Future of Restaurants Payments’ Worldpay-from-FIS—Future-of-Restaurant-Payments.pdf (

8 PYMNTS, 2021 Restaurant Habits In The Post-COVID Future, By The Numbers ( 


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