According to a recent report from Business Insider, McDonald’s is quietly testing an order-ahead and mobile payment app at a tiny handful of its more than 14,000 U.S. locations.
The pilot is limited to 22 locations in the Columbus, Georgia area. Called “McD Ordering,” the app links to a credit or debit card, which is automatically charged when a customer arrives and scans a QR code displayed at the restaurant.
The phone then displays the customer's order number. Once everything's ready, the customer picks up food and drinks — without waiting in a line or interacting with a cashier.
Here's a tutorial from the app, which is listed in the iOS and Android stores, but has yet to be publicly announced:
McDonald’s has previously rolled out mobile ordering and payment apps in foreign markets, and accepts the contactless Isis mobile wallet at many U.S. locations, but the Georgia pilot marks the U.S. debut of a McDonald’s-branded mobile payments app. A separate McDonald’s app called “McD App” currently serves up coupons and loyalty offers in multiple test markets, though none are in Georgia.
McDonald's is more interested in streamlining the customer experience than mobile payments in and of themselves, according to a top company executive who has knowledge of the project but was not authorized to discuss it publicly. The executive believes that the app’s core appeal lies in the ability to save customized orders, and let users skip drive-thru and in-store lines.
McDonald’s also stands to benefit from the transaction data the the McD Ordering app collects. Combining the couponing and payment apps would allow the company to see everything customers purchase when they redeem a digital coupon, data that over time would allow McDonald’s to precisely target profitable offers, the executive says.
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