Soon, You Can Go Cash-Free At Your Favorite Food Truck

Photo: Courtesy PayAnywhere.
We love hitting up local food trucks on a sunny afternoon. But trying to dig out change from your wallet while juggling your phone and a plate of noodles is not so lovely. If you could just pay with your phone, it'd be so much easier — and now, you can.

PayAnywhere, launching today, is a mobile credit-card reader with Apple Pay built in. In fact, it's the first of its kind. PayAnywhere is like those Square card readers, but a bit larger; it accommodates card swipes, dips (for newer credit cards that are microchipped), and contact-less Apple Pay transactions.

San Francisco-area food trucks Tacos El Tuca and Lil Burma are the first to adopt the new reader, and we got to try out the experience. While it's nice not having to deal with swiping a credit card or fiddling with dollar bills, the best thing about Apple Pay in this situation is how fast it is. If everyone (or even half of everyone) in line were to pay this way, food truck lines would be so much faster! (Well, as long as the cooks can keep up.)

The PayAnywhere reader can be used by all types of merchants and small businesses: Craft and street fairs, pop-up shops, artists, and sidewalk vendors. Available today at San Francisco Apple Stores, it costs $40 and can be purchased from Apple's website and other retailers in early September. One caveat: While PayAnywhere supports contact-less payments, it only works with Apple Pay — not with other solutions, such as Google Wallet. Square is coming out with its own Apple Pay-enabled reader as well, later this fall.

If you've never used Apple Pay before but want to try it out, it's easy to set up, and tons of retailers accept it. On an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, head to the Passbook app, then tap "Add Credit" or "Debit Card." You can then use the same card you already use with iTunes — just enter the security code on the back — or use your phone's camera to read the information off your card. Hit "Next," wait for your bank to confirm the information is correct, and you're ready to go. To pay, just select that card in the app (you can add multiple cards if you choose), put your thumb on your phone's Touch ID home button, and tap your phone on the payment terminal. When the transaction is processed, your phone vibrates, makes a "ping" noise, and a check mark appears on the screen to let you know it's done.

We're one step closer to being able to live our whole lives with just our phones. Now, if only bars would accept a phone-based form of ID.