Popular restaurant joins the ranks using a new way to pay

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A day is coming when you just won't need a wallet anymore. There will be no cards or cash to carry. Your smart phone will give you the ability to shop just about anywhere.

Panera is the latest in a growing list of restaurants, including Starbucks and Dominos, that allows you to pick out and pay for your food using a simple application.

"It's just so easy and some people don't know about it," said Jessica Babinski who uses the Panera kiosks to order each time she visits the restaurant, instead of going up to the counter.

The Panera app also has a feature that allows you to order and pay for your meal at a table and a worker will deliver your food to you.

"There is a convenience factor that some people are really going to find attractive," said Claes Bell, the Mobile Editor for Bankrate.com.

However he also warns that you'll pay in terms of privacy.

"You need to remember that companies are using this as a tool to gather data. They are going to be recording the phone number you put down. They are recording your email address and reporting when you like to go to their establishment. They are going to want to know what you like to order. They are even going to want to personalize coupons and offers to try to get you to come back," Bell said.

For many the tradeoff is worthwhile. For others, the preference is to talk with the clerk behind the counter.

"She knows who I am and calls me by name. I know her name. I know that her birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I like the interaction rather than sitting there keying in something on a kiosk," said regular customer Matthew Paul Brown.

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