London-based app Velocity Mobile, offering a legal way to "dine and dash," has launched in Miami. The digital hospitality platform, which allows diners to pay for meals through a mobile device, is available at 850 venues around the world, including 74 Michelin-starred restaurants. Miami marks the seventh Velocity-friendly city, with dozens more expected through 2016.
"Miami has always been a really important city for us," says Zia Yusuf, cofounder of Velocity. "We're really proud to be here now. As we see the types of venues and customers engaging with the app, it's really exciting. We're truly an international company, and that's why Miami is important to us."
When a Velocity user arrives at a restaurant that has partnered with the app, the guest checks in on a mobile device, and at the end of the meal, the diner can leave without waiting for a check. The bill, including a user-set tip, is charged to the credit card on file. The platform allows splitting the cost with guests too.
"The existing solutions for customers simply didn't cater to the world we live in," Yusuf says. "We live in a world where no one wants to wait anymore."
Today, 27 Restaurant & Bar, Alter, Bagatelle, the Broken Shaker, Casa Tua, Coya, the Dutch, Driftwood Room, Drunken Dragon, Lure Fishbar, and Rockwell are available through Velocity. Yusuf says restaurants are being added daily, and Miami will see new additions soon.
Yusuf, along with cofounder Alex Macdonald, will launch new features for Velocity in early 2016, including discovery and reservation capabilities.
"I realized that even though I was a great customer in my own city, when I wanted to make a reservation in a venue without a preexisting relationship, it was tough," he says. "We want this to be a one-stop shop for a customer and for it to be truly international."
He explains that the goal of Velocity is to be able to open the app anywhere around the world, automatically find high-quality restaurants through location services, make a reservation, and pay for the bill, all on one platform.
"When we're talking about high-end, we simply mean great hospitality," he says. "It doesn't necessarily need to be expensive. We work with a lot of neighborhood gems too. We're just very selective with restaurants we want to work with."
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Velocity approves each restaurant that's available on the app, removing the burden of having to decide what's good and what's not in an unfamiliar city. Though the app has added hundreds of restaurants to its global database since its London launch in March 2014, Yusuf says the company is focused on working with the best venues in each city, not getting as many locales as possible.
"In the last six months, we've gone from two venues to more than 800," he says. "We have no intention of slowing down. Because we've been able to attract the best names in hospitality, we've been seeing more and more venues saying they want to be a part of it."
The market expansion follows recent acquisitions of similar mobile-based apps, including U.S.-based Cover, Canada-based Tab Payments, and UK-based Uncover. The Velocity network, which spans New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, and now Miami, plans to expand with six new cities each month beginning in 2016.
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