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McDonald’s adds value to mobile payments with ordering, offers

In the latest example of how fast food restaurants are leading the charge with mobile payments, McDonald’s has launched the Quick Mac mobile application to enable customers in Austria to order food and pay for it via their smartphones.

McDonald’s has been aggressively experimenting with a variety of mobile payments strategies in different markets around the world as it looks to unlock the magic formula for delivering the kind of consumer value that will drive adoption. The Quick Mac app is notable for combining a variety of services, including ordering, payments, offers, push notifications and geolocation.

“Mobile ordering is one of the mini-killer apps that will help accelerate the growth of mobile payments,” said Drew Sievers, former CEO at mFoundry and now founding partner at fintech investor Operative Capital.

“For McDonald’s, making fast food faster is enough of a benefit to justify the investment in mobile payment technology,” he said. “In theory, their approach will create better customer loyalty, increased purchase frequency, and faster line throughput.

“For a mature, yet widespread, business like McDonald’s, small improvements can definitely add up to big gains.”

Mr. Sievers is not affiliated with McDonald’s and spoke based on his experience.

McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment.

 Building customer loyalty
Fast food chains are looking for ways to build customer loyalty as sales struggle, with many embracing mobile as an important way to accomplish. Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s are also at various stages of mobile payments deployments.

The McDonald’s Quick Mac app lets users find the nearest location by map or list, place an order and pay using paybox, Visa, MasterCard or PayPal.

McDonald’s had previously partnered with paybox in Austria to trial NFC payments.

Users can pick up their orders from a designated area inside the restaurant or from the drive-thru.

The app also includes product information and nutritional values that users can peruse before placing an order.

Push notifications will inform users about exclusive promotions, coupons and loyalty offers.

Simplifying future orders
To make ordering even faster, users can designated their favorite location and products in the app.

The app also keeps track of previous orders as another way to simplify future orders.

The app is just one of several ways that McDonald’s is trying to drive mobile payments adoption.

Quick Mac is available for iOS and Android devices.

In Thailand and Singapore, McDonald’s is pairing the McDelivery service in Thailand with a mobile-enabled point-of-sale service (see story).

McDonald’s is also testing loyalty-based app Front Flip in one region of the U.S. and is also working with Isis on a mobile payment trial (see story).  

“Testing different payment methods in multiple markets is a smart way to see what will work,” Mr. Sievers said. “At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what mobile payment scheme will work in any market, let alone one.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York