McDonald's adopts contactless card technology


Credit card purchases at fast food chain McDonald's should be even quicker by the end of the month, following the news that the company is rolling out contactless payment technology in all of its restaurants. The move means that customers will be able to pay for their meal with a single swipe of their contactless credit or debit card, without having to enter their PIN. McDonald's believes the payment method will take off in the near future and is confident that its early adoption of contactless technology will help to improve the customer experience and give the company an advantage over its competitors.


All restaurants to be enabled this month
McDonald's aims to have installed contactless card readers in all of its 1,200 UK restaurants by the end of May 2011, according to Computing magazine. The system will enable customers to purchase items that cost less than £15 by placing their contactless credit or debit card on a wireless reader. Mark Fabes, the company's UK IT director, told the publication that the technology is "quicker than the chip and PIN transaction" and it should help drive customers into its outlets.

Mr Fabes admitted, however, that the impact of contactless card technology is unlikely to become apparent overnight. "The number of cards with contactless capability among the customer base at the moment is low," said Mr Fabes. "But we recognise that contactless near-field communications capability will soon be in many customers' hands."

Faith borne out by figures
The restaurant's faith in contactless payments is supported by Visa's projections for contactless cards and terminals in the UK. The nation is the biggest market for contactless technology in Europe and Visa recently revealed that it expects there to be more than 20m Visa-branded contactless cards on issue by the end of 2011. The technology is supported by a range of companies, such as Subway, Pret A Manger and Caffe Nero.

Contactless technology 'ideal' for fast food environment
Contactless payments are designed to enable customers to pay for low-value items more quickly, and the fast-paced nature of McDonald's should ensure that the technology is welcomed. Earlier this year, Visa UK managing director Marc O'Brien spoke in favour of the company's decision to embrace contactless transactions.

"This innovative way of paying is ideal for high-volume retail environments where speed of service is essential," said Mr O'Brien in an interview with Marketing magazine. "It offers a secure, convenient and quick alternative to cash, while reducing queuing times."

See related: Beware of fake Wi-Fi hotspots when making contactless payments; Transport for London introduces contactless payments for Tube, tram and DLR

Published: 12 May 2011