NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Ever hear of "digital dining?"
It's more likely if you're a fan of dining out, smartphones and mobile payments .
And even if you're not, you may want to hear more.
Digital dining is the de facto brainchild of Menusoft, a Springfield, Va.-based restaurant services technology provider.The firm doesn't actually take credit for the idea of restaurant patrons paying for meals right at their at the table with smartphones or tablet devices. It just has dramatically moved the technology. The firm's website says the idea dates back to 1978 and began in Australia, while in the U.S. the first digital dining system was rolled out at a cozy Washington, D.C., pub in 1984, allowing customers to pay via three crude (for the time) electronic workstations. But 35 years later -- light years in the technology market -- Menusoft has digital dining mobile payment platforms in 50,000 restaurants across the U.S., with more on the menu. This week Menusoft announced a partnership with Paydiant, a Wellesley, Mass., mobile payments solutions developer. All dining consumers have to do is download a restaurant, bar or tavern's mobile payments app; immediately their credit or debit card is linked to the establishment payment system. They can choose to pay using multiple payment platforms, including bank cards or major credit card providers. The customer can also download discounts and redeemable offers on the spot, cutting the cost of a bill. Digital dining doesn't just make the process quicker for consumers, who don't have to cool their heels waiting for a server or bartender to pay; restaurants make out too. "Our customers are increasingly mobile, so meaningful mobile innovation is one of our most important areas of focus and investment," says Andre Nataf, senior business development manager at Menusoft. "Pay-at-the-table, for example, reduces the number of trips required to the table to settle a check. That differentiating experience improves operational efficiencies through quicker 'table-turn' and consequently increases customer convenience and loyalty."