Berlin The functionality of the Luca app to contain the corona pandemic was quickly explained: “I’m going on the train with Luca, beep, check in, check out. Go to the girlfriend, private meeting check in, check out. Then I’ll go to the restaurant beep, beep, ” the rapper Smudo explained in February 2021 at “Anne Will”. The containment of the pandemic seemed as simple as a small game on the mobile phone.
The corona chapter of the Luca app is now being closed for the time being: According to their own information, the creators have deleted all data from the system that has been recorded and stored encrypted since the start of the contact tracking application during the pandemic.
Luca has always been controversial. The main criticism was the concept of central storage of encrypted contact data. Critics from the Chaos Computer Club and the scientific community also repeatedly doubted the usefulness of the collected data, which had hardly been used by the health authorities.
The Luca creators denied this and were happy about good figures: in the top download lists of the app stores, Luca was represented with top positions for many weeks despite the constant criticism. According to the operators, 41 million people in Germany have registered as their users since the launch of the app.
However, at the latest at the time when the number of infected people skyrocketed with the Omikron variant, the actual purpose of the Luca app was called into question. If health authorities can no longer identify and notify contacts of infected people anyway, there is no longer any reason to digitally log restaurant visits with the Luca app just in case.
Conversion to a payment app for restaurants
However, with the end of the Luca app as a tool for containing the corona pandemic, the application will not disappear. It is to be given a second life for the digitization of the hospitality industry and will start as a payment app for restaurants in the first step.
Against this background, it is easy for the creators of the Luca app to separate themselves from the old databases. The data is only stored and visible locally on the smartphones of the users, said the managing director of the operating company, Patrick Hennig, on Wednesday in Berlin. “Luca has no access to it.“
On Wednesday, Culture4Life launched a service in Hamburg, Berlin and Rostock that allows guests to pay bills without cash. The restaurant visitors scan a QR code at their table and see their bill in the app, which can then be paid via the smartphone.
Further digital services such as the acceptance of vouchers or integration into POS systems are in development and will follow soon, said Hennig. Luca Pay is to be financed by transaction fees, which amount to 0.5 percent of sales plus 5 cents for each payment transaction.
Digital reservations are also planned
Previously, the creators of the Luca app had raised 30 million euros in a financing round to rebuild the application and implement the new business model. With the new offer, Culture4Life is competing against industry giants such as PayPal or Deutsche Telekom, among others. Deutsche Telekom is cooperating with the start-up Enfore of series founder Marco Börries.
Germany is still lagging behind in digital payments, said Luca CEO Hennig. “We want to change that. In just three months, we have developed a new product, Luca Pay, with which we are making the customer experience in the catering industry more digital and efficient.“
With the system, guests and service staff saved valuable time with every payment process, said Hennig. “Further digital services are in development and will follow soon. Our goal is the complete digitization of the user experience from booking to ordering to paying – and beyond Germany.“