During the pandemic, many restaurants and bars adopted contactless ordering and payment to make workers and customers more comfortable when dining in.

But what was introduced as a temporary measure may end up helping restaurants navigate an uncertain future. Here are a few reasons the industry may be inclined to keep it around for good:

Minimizing exposure

Even as COVID cases decrease, the health and safety of diners and staff should always be top of mind for any restaurant or bar operator. Offering contactless ordering and/or payment would limit potential exposure and make it easier to maintain social distancing measures.

Increasing efficiency and generating sales

Fast food chains, for example, are investing in smarter screens that will make it quicker and easier for customers to move through drive-thru lines. Some are also incorporating “predictive selling” technology to make personalized recommendations for items that can be added to their order. Talk about an elegant way to upsell.

Improving working conditions

Over the last few months, the food service industry has been grappling with a long overdue reckoning: workers need better conditions. The implementation of contactless technologies can help address a few key areas. For example, employees have previously cited unpleasant encounters with unruly customers as a safety concern. By limiting face-to-face interactions, contactless options would lessen this risk.

Adapting to alternative payment methods

Even before the pandemic, alternative payment methods like Apple Pay were gaining traction and credit cards with “tap” abilities were speeding up the check-out process. Now, cryptocurrency is becoming more mainstream, and restaurants are beginning to take various forms as payment. Digital payment tools make it easier for eateries to more seamlessly adopt and process these transactions.

Personally, there are few things that I enjoy more than chatting with a waiter or sommelier about their thoughts on a menu. However, I don’t believe those interactions and contactless options need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the ideal dining experience of the future should include both. I will be interested to see how restaurants navigate this balance going forward.

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.

Investor in and lover of fine wine and restaurants.