McDonald's has worked hard to become more than a restaurant chain. It has become a marketing icon and is part of the routines of millions of people. Its success is so far reaching that it has developed its own culture and identity. McDonald's has become a symbol of the success and desirability of American popular culture.
TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT AND ANALYSIS
Networks are particularly important to McDonald's because they provide a mechanism to manage the franchises spread over large geographic areas. Networks reinforce the centralization of power by enabling headquarters to communicate with the franchises. This ensures standardization and quality control through the analysis of inventories and franchises. Networks achieve these functions at a comparatively low cost and without the time constraints of more mainframe-based communications.
Smart Card Technology
Both McDonald's and Burger King are testing smart card technology in selected markets. The cash value of each card is stored on a computer chip or magnetic strip on the back of each card. Value can b e added to the card through machines that accept cash or through ATM-like machines that add value by transferring funds out of a customer's bank account. Customers can use the cards, instead of cash, to make their food purchases. Corporate goals for smart card implementation include cost savings in relation to money handling, reduced shrinkage, and increased loyalty through incentives and premiums. Smart cards eliminate the need for merchants to communicate with banks for authorization of purchases.
McDonald's is testing this technology at 870 restaurants across Germany. A payment system lets customers pay for goods using stored-value smart cards. Customers at McDonald's Deutschland, Inc. restaurants will be able to pay for goods by swiping smart cards through small countertop terminals. They also will be able to add value to their smart cards by downloading money electronically from their bank accounts at touch-screen terminals in the restaurants. The terminals will lead users through the process of downloading new money to the cards.
McDonald's Deutschland continues to use smart card terminals in 55 stores earlier this year. During the first ten weeks of the trial, 30,000 transactions were conducted, using Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP's) VeriFone unit, which provides the terminals.
Though smart cards are catching on in Germany, there had not been an easy way to add value to the cards. According to Rolf Kreiner, senior vice president of marketing at McDonald's Deutschland, by letting customers not only buy goods but also add value to their cards, McDonald's is hoping to lead a trend toward the wide-scale acceptance of smart cards in Germany. The German smart-card payment infrastructure, known as GeldKarte-System, has about 40 million cards in circulation. McDonald's has committed to use VeriFone's SC552 smart card reader, which supports GeldKarte-System cards.
The system that will let users add value to their cards will be separate from the smart card readers and will be called VeriFone's Transaction Automation Loading and Information System (TALIS). The system will let users add value to their cards separate from the smart card readers. While customers wait for TALIS terminals to connect to their banks, the screens flash advertising and marketing messages.
VeriFone's TALIS touch-screen terminals are equipped for two cards, permitting consumers to "transfer" monetary value from a debit or credit card to a smart card after first tapping in a personal identification number. Once the smart card has been filled with store value, it can then be inserted into a smart card reader at the point of sale to make payment on goods or services.
Technologically, smart cards were designed to function in place of credit cards in the fast food environment. Historically, credit card transactions were too slow in the...