Whitbread is expecting to make annual savings of £1m by the end of the year by implementing a company-wide IT system for handling customer payments.
The company is rolling out the payment system across 1,500 locations covering its Costa Coffee, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn businesses.
The project, in development for two years, has allowed Whitbread to replace old banking terminals - which required staff to key in customers' credit card details manually - with wireless chip and Pin readers.
The system now sends payment transactions to Fidelity National Information Services, which provides its payment services once a customer's card has been authorised by chip and Pin readers.
The project has simplified the way the company balances the books at the end of each day, revealed Stephen Deakin, project manager at Whitbread Information Systems.
"We used to poll data across 500 sites at the end of each day, which made it difficult to investigate where a reconciliation error had occurred," he told Caterer sister title Computer Weekly.
"We are now trickling data through to Fidelity, which means we have greater visibility of all the transactions and this makes it easier to spot problems."
The company completed the roll-out of the unified payment system to 500 Costa Coffee outlets in November 2007. This month it is due to finish the roll-out across 500 Beefeater restaurants. By the fourth quarter of 2008, Deakin expects to have 500 Premier Inn hotels running the payment system.
The system uses technology from Smart Technology Solutions, Fidelity National Information Services, IBM and VeriFone.
By Cliff Saran
This article first appeared on Caterersearch sister website ComputerWeekly.com
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