Bird Tests New Payment System to Make Purchases at L.A. and Santa Monica Retailers

Bird Rides Inc., whose ubiquitous rental scooters are a staple of Los Angeles street corners, is getting into the electronic pay business.

The Santa Monica-based company said Tuesday it will unveil Bird Pay, allowing customers to purchase items from local businesses through the company's app. This is considered a logical next step for customers since the company estimates nearly 60% of riders are heading toward local businesses like bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

The company, considered to be one of the world's largest providers of electric scooter rentals, is testing the concept out in select local businesses throughout Los Angeles and Santa Monica. But, the concept could roll out to other big cities if Bird Pay takes off.

"An early insight that emerged shortly after introducing Bird in Santa Monica was that it had the potential to not only allow people to avoid the chore of circling a block to find parking resulting in congestion and frustration, but it could also foster a more direct connection between people and local businesses," said CEO and founder Travis VanderZanden.

"Store owners in the community often tell me, 'Birds outside bring business inside," he said. "This phenomenon paired with our commitment to community resulted in Bird Pay which helps drive even more customers to local businesses."

There's anecdotal evidence that the easier mobility from the likes of Bird, scooter rival Lime and Uber's Jump electric bikes may increase consumer spending. VanderZanden said his company's internal research shows that business in 100 cities reported that more riders on the street led to higher traffic in stores.

Bird Pay allows riders to easily pay at these local businesses using their Bird app — no debit or credit card needed, no handling of cash, just a scan of a QR code.

Aric Haut, who owns Harvest Bar in Los Angeles, said his restaurant was the first local business to partner with Bird Pay. His business was the first to test the concept ahead of the larger rollout this week.

"It made sense to offer riders an effortless way to purchase our famous acai bowls and smoothies using the mode of transportation that brought them to Harvest Bar," he said.

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