Ingenico S.A. has added software to its pay-at-the-table devices to help lower the interchange rates restaurateurs pay for credit and debit card transactions.

Merchant Warehouse Inc., an independent sales organization based in Boston that resells the Ingenico device, developed the software, known as BINsmart. It identifies the type of card used and estimates the lowest interchange category the merchant should apply to the transaction. The issuing bank determines the correct interchange rate when it authorizes the transaction, Merchant Warehouse says.

The software "can take a $200 sale on a debit card and save the merchant $3 to $4 with a debit transaction versus a credit transaction," said Henry Helgeson, co-chief executive of Merchant Warehouse.

Typically, sales pitches focus on pay-at-the-table terminals' ability to increase the frequency in which customers get seated at tables and on their being able to hold on to their payment cards instead of giving them to a waiter. Interchange-rate reduction via BINsmart gives merchants more substantive numbers to consider, Helgeson said.

Merchants can more accurately calculate how long it will take them to see savings that equal the cost of the device, which sells for $600 to $800, he said. A restaurant with $20,000 to $30,000 in monthly card-sales volume and an average ticket of $150 to $200, would pay for the terminal in reduced interchange expense within a few months, Helgeson said.

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