Google Files Patent For Payment System That Helps Split Your Tab

Beware, wait staffs everywhere--part of your job is about to be obviated by Google. Of course, it’s an annoying part of your job--the one where you have to split up a bill for a group of patrons. Indeed, six Googlers have filed a patent for a “computer-implemented method” (presumably an Android app of some sort) for dividing up group expenses, such as a restaurant bill.

The abstract of the patent filing is the best part, as only a skilled attorney could summarize such a simple idea thusly:
A group including plurality of users is established. A transaction record is maintained for the group that includes a plurality of payment transactions. Each of the plurality of payment transactions involves at least one user of the group. Additionally, a balance is maintained that indicates an amount owed by a first user of the group to a second user of the group based on one or more of the plurality of payment transactions. When a settling event occurs, the balance is settled by initiating a transfer of funds between the first user and the second user.
Google tab-splitting patent

Features include the ability to allocate balances to certain users of a group but not others--for example, if four pals are on vacation and only three happen to go to lunch that day--and users could be notified of their payment obligation via social network. The system can work balances out even when members of a group use different forms of payment; for example, if one person pays in cash while the others use their cards.

BillPin android app
Source: Google Play; Thumbnail source above L: BridgeAndTunnelClub

There’s accountability built in, too; users can see whether you’ve paid your portion of the bill or not. And the killer feature is that it appears as though users can transfer funds to one another via the system, which is actually a really powerful tool.

It’s perhaps a little odd, though, that Google is actually patenting this concept, especially as there are already several apps that seem to do much the same thing, including buddyCount, BillPin, and Group Expenses.

Secretly, we kind of hope that these Googlers filed this patent as a prank.