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Tim Hortons breaks into mobile payments with revamped app

Tim Hortons is pitting itself against Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts in the mobile payment space with an application upgrade.

The limited introduction directly targets busy consumers’ pocketbooks and brings the quick-service restaurant chain in pace with others that offer mobile payments. Additionally, the Tim Hortons app features offers and discounts.

“Mobile payment offers our guests a convenient and secure alternative, which in turn provides our guests with more time to enjoy their favorite Tim Hortons food and beverages,” said Michelle Robichaud, manager of public relations and social media at Tim Hortons, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. “We continue to look for ways to offer our Tim Hortons guests ultimate convenience and ease of use.

“Mobile allows us to act on this commitment and provide further access to all of their favorite digital tools in one convenient spot,” she said.

Updating applications
Tim Hortons updated its BlackBerry, iPhone and Android apps so that consumers can pay in-store.

The app now makes it possible for iOS and Android users to pay for purchases with their Tim cards. The card is a virtual card that consumers can deposit money onto and use to pay in-store.

Tim Hortons partnered with First Data Corporation to offer mobile payments at limited locations in the United States and Canada.

The app also features a restaurant locator, nutrition calculator, social media sharing and a contact us form.

The company is getting the word out about through newsletters to its entire database, via social media and its Web site.

Coffee is in the forefront of marketers’ radar because it is a daily purchase for many consumers.

The app is similar to mobile apps that competitors Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts already offer.

In fact, Starbucks in April said that 10 percent of the brand’s revenue now comes from mobile devices (see story).

Tim Hortons operates 3,500 restaurants in Canada and roughly 800 in the United States.

Personalizing experiences
Tim Hortons updated its TimmyMe app last February. The revision simplified food orders by enabling easy Tim Horton card reloads and balance checks (see story).

To personalize the experience, the TimmyMe app enables consumers to give their cards a nickname.

Tim Hortons is promoting its soft launch of mobile payments  through public relations, social media and digital marketing. The company plans to promote mobile payments in its store beginning in January.

The TimmyMe app features an offer to win free coffee for a year by taking a guest survey. This helps Tim Hortons get a better understanding of its users and target them more efficiently in the future.

The app also features limited-time offers for discounts on breakfast specials.

Soon after Tim Hortons launched mobile payments, consumers started commenting about it on social media and in the app stores.

One person wrote: “NFC!! I hope this starts a trend because I tried it tonight and it was wonderful.”

Going forward, Tim Hortons will continue to build out its mobile offerings.

“We are focused on mobile leadership within the quick service segment and will continue to grow upon our mobile offering in-restaurant,” Ms. Robichaud said.

Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York