As the major fast-food and coffee chains roll out mobile apps to great effect, independent outlets are also getting in on the action.

US food and coffee chains like Tim Hortons, Dunn Bros, Dunkin’ Donuts have all launched mobile apps in recent months. McDonalds is looking at adding a pre-order features to theirs and few can deny the success of Starbucks’ mobile payment app which now accounts for 16% of the company’s transactions.

Now, independent, artisan quick service companies are beginning to see the opportunity in mobile. The likes of Canadian coffee roasters Balzac’s are proving you can stay local and boutique, and give customers even better service, with mobile.

Last month the company launched its own app which is simple to use and eliminates the need for customers to carry cash or search their bags for loyalty or credit cards to swipe.

“We are excited to be providing our customers with a more convenient payment method than ever before, combining payment and loyalty into a single smartphone app transaction” says Balzac’s owner Diana Olsen. “This app will reduce line-ups, and provide a more seamless interaction with our customers which in turn allows us to focus our efforts on the product and preparation.”

With so many of its customers using their smartphones to shop online, read news and browse social media, the move seemed natural.

“Our customers are smartphone users and looking for an alternative to cash and plastic cards,” said the company’s director of operations Steve Janzen.

So how can smaller quick-serve businesses (without the resource to develop their own apps) join the mobile payments trend?

Sydney’s Sonoma chain, best known for its sourdough bread and quality coffee, was one of the first locations in Australia to enable PayPal payments in store. Any customer with the PayPal app can find the store on the apps local map and make payment with a swipe of a finger.

“In the early days of our stores we just used some very basic cash register systems,” said founder Andrew Cannole. “Now we can offer a faster, more efficient service. Customers can find us, they can check in and pay using their phones.”

Merchants don’t need to develop their own app, just make sure their POS system is compatible with PayPal.

“It’s very seamless,” added Andrew, “It’s a win-win for us and the customer.”

Smartphone penetration in Australia is among the highest in the world and rising. According to Deloitte’s Media Consumer Survey 2014, more than 80% of Australians own a smartphone. That’s an increase of 21% over the previous three years and among all age groups. Some 57% consider their smartphone their ‘go-to’ device.

The opportunity presented by mobile, especially for accepting payments, is huge.