by Aisling Kearney, Mintel

Fast food giant Burger King has partnered with blockchain platform Wave to launch its own crypto-currency in Russia called WhopperCoin. Customers who buy the chain’s signature Whopper burger are now able to receive one WhopperCoin via digital wallet for every rouble (NZD$0.025) they spend. Once customers save as many as 1,700 Whoppercoins, they are able to buy a Whopper burger using this virtual currency. Burger King has reportedly launched one billion WhopperCoin tokens to date on Wave’s platform, with plans to make an app available for the programme on Android and iPhone in September 2017.

Despite being dubbed as Burger King’s new loyalty programme, like other crypto-currency WhopperCoins can be traded online, enabling customers to either save their rewards or sell them to interested parties. This move comes on the back of a boom time for digital currencies which have surged in popularity over the past year. Consumer confidence in cashless payments has increased due to the widespread adoption of contactless cards and payment apps such as Android Pay and Apple Pay. As noted in Mintel’s Payment Methods Online vs Offline Ireland 2016 report, half of consumers agree that a cashless society is inevitable in the future.

Burger King’s corporate image may also help entice customers into using this form of digital payment. Looking ahead, if WhopperCoin proves successful, similar schemes could be introduced in the fast food and takeaway sector across the globe. Indeed, Mintel’s Quick Service Restaurants and Takeaways Ireland 2017 report highlights that 65 percent of NI consumers and 63 percent of consumers agree with the statement “I would be interested in using electronic payment methods (mobile payments, pre-ordering, contactless) at a fast food/takeaway outlet”.

Aisling Kearney is a Research Analyst with a MSc (Hons) in Sustainable Development. Upon joining Mintel in 2015 Aisling has been involved in the production of market intelligence reports covering a range of sectors including food and drink, lifestyles and retail.