On September 2nd, the news that "a Burger King accepted bitcoin payment" spread throughout the currency circle.
At that time, because Bitcoin was “strongly supported” by the world's second-largest fast food restaurant, many users of the currency think that this event indicates that the huge influence of traditional fast food restaurants may bring hundreds of millions of users to the encryption market.
However, does this move increase consumer demand for McDonald's fast food? Is it really possible to buy the popular Big Mac burger with Bitcoin? What difficulties did the fast food restaurant encounter in the three-year cryptocurrency experience?
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With these questions, we find that reality may not be as good as we think.
Bitcoin and Burger King
Burger King was one of the first international fast food chains to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment. According to reports, as early as 2016, when the Burger King Netherlands branch began accepting bitcoin, visitors could use the cryptocurrency for the first time to buy burgers. On February 18, 2016, Burger King Arnhem Branch announced that it was the first restaurant to offer burgers to cryptocurrency holders.
In addition, the Burger King Arnhem branch also announced that any Bitcoin-paid customer will receive a second Big Mac burger for free, and the restaurant will also host special gatherings for customers interested in digital currency.
However, on May 31, the representative of Arnhem announced that the local Burger King restaurant had stopped accepting bitcoin, and the digital currency payment plan was only a temporary promotion:
“Unfortunately, Burger King no longer accepts bitcoin after May 31. So you only have one chance to use their offer this month! If you buy burgers with bitcoin, you will get a second burger for free!”
You can't use or trade WHO
Since then, encrypted burgers have entered Russia. Burger King Russia announced a new payment method and even released a WhopperCoin (WHO) loyalty bonus. But since then, has anyone heard of Bitcoin and Burger King? Almost no.
On August 25, 2017, Burger King Russia announced that it has issued 1 billion WhopperCoins (WHO) using the blockchain platform Waves. This new cryptocurrency was originally used to buy Big Mac burgers or other burgers and side dishes. It is particularly worth mentioning that the company promises that any accumulated 1,700 WHO customers will receive a free Big Mac burger.
At the same time, Burger King Russia actively promoted its cryptocurrency, the translated statement said, “Today you eat Big Mac, the economy will prosper tomorrow.” “People can check the trading charts of the YoBit exchange to determine which shares to hold. People have achieved financial success. To date, YoBit is the only exchange listed by WHO, although the volume of WHO-BTC is zero.
The reality is that it is not easy to find a Burger King Russian restaurant that accepts bitcoin payments, and it is not possible to place orders online using cryptocurrency. This may be due to the active intervention of the Russian authorities in local franchise activities. Specifically, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office has repeatedly called representatives of the Burger King Russian company to explain the operation of WhopperCoins and confirmed that the company did not issue generic tokens to remind them of the illegal nature of the Russian cryptocurrency business.
"We accept bitcoin"
After two years of silence, the Burger King Bitcoin chain reappeared in the media, and in September this year, Burger King Germany announced that it would accept bitcoin payments on its distribution website and mobile app.
As a result, the following voices appeared in many media:
“Daily, more than 11 million guests visit Burger King’s restaurants around the world. It is the second largest fast food burger in the world”
“Bitcoin is accepted here, bitcoin is accepted there, and bitcoin is accepted everywhere” In order to increase retail sales, Burger King has launched a mobile app. According to reports, Burger King announced a partnership with San Diego's mobile payment solutions company Tillster to launch a mobile payment-friendly application.
Tillster CEO Perse Faily said:
“For consumers, they can take advantage of a convenient way to pay for their goods and choose services that other brands are developing, such as loyalty programs, exclusive coupons and other social tools.”
It is worth noting that Burger King chose to remain silent on this new payment method, and a more detailed study showed that its restaurant has nothing to do with Bitcoin, although its partners are related to Bitcoin.
So, can Burger King in Germany buy a BTC burger?
Yes, but not in a physical store. People can order delivery services online via Lieferservice delivery service, paying in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Lieferservice works with restaurants across the country. In other words, this is similar to Apple's announcement that AirPods can already be purchased online, but it is actually sold on Amazon. It seems that this is not the burger king's own idea.
At the same time, Burger King's Lieferservice redirects the user to BitPay when ordering the product, and BitPay generates a QR code for bitcoin or bitcoin cash payments.
Where can I pay with Bitcoin?
According to Coinmap's interactive statistics, there are currently more than 15,400 offline venues that accept Bitcoin. Information appears on the Internet from time to time, and visitors to one or another institution can pay in cryptocurrency. In May of this year, US payment service provider Flexa enabled Starbucks and 14 other retailers to handle bitcoin transactions. In July of this year, Singapore's food chain KOPItech installed a special booth for customers to order food in cryptocurrency.
But are these really useful?
With BTC, ETH, LTC or Dash, people can buy burgers, street food, coffee, pizza or sushi in the US, Australia, UK, Russia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and other countries.
In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the convenience of cryptocurrencies is favored by cafés – customers can pay in 10 places with encryption. The cryptocurrency wallet can also be used to buy pastries at Krust Bakery in Dublin, Ireland. At the same time, according to BitcoinRestaurants.net, 94 restaurants in the United States have received cryptocurrency payments so far.
In most cases, local franchises in small, private or large chain stores are proactive. The idea of using cryptocurrencies to pay is usually from a local restaurant owner, which is essentially an advertisement.
On January 11, 2018, the Canadian branch of another fast food giant, KFC, announced a temporary promotion including BTC payments. In order to support the popularity of cryptocurrency, the restaurant owner decided to add a "bitcoin basket" to the menu, that is, a bucket of chicken wings.
According to reports, KFC's competitor Subway has also been trying to establish a bitcoin payment system to attract customers. Emily Rossi, a public relations firm that claims to have a relationship with Burger King, said that in general, such promotions are temporary:
“A restaurant that accepts bitcoin doesn’t seem to accept Bitcoin. However, since each restaurant is independently owned and operated, the situation is different, so it depends on each franchisee, not its headquarters.”
How to pay with Bitcoin?
In most cases, restaurants and cafes use QR codes to receive cryptocurrencies, and operators such as BitPay and Coincheck are assigned processing tasks. At the same time, developing countries often turn to local mobile applications developed for ordering.
By scanning the QR code, customers can transfer money from their cryptocurrency wallet to the wallet belonging to the venue. Transaction records are permanently stored on the blockchain, and account information remains private.
Atila Ajdinovski is the owner of a bitcoin-friendly restaurant in North Jersey. He claims that using cryptocurrency as a payment method may be more secure than using a credit card:
"When they have your credit card, they know the expiration date. They have all the passwords. They may turn around and rob your credit card without your knowledge."
Although cryptocurrencies are prohibited by law, many places are forced to set up backdoors. One of them is to convert client funds into fiat money while conducting internal accounting in traditional currencies.
Many restaurants try to circumvent the law, calling their cryptocurrency a “loyalty bonus,” such as the Russian Burger King and the Russian organic restaurant Lavka-Lavka. The owners of the two institutions have repeatedly attracted the attention of the authorities and even filed lawsuits.
Another problem facing cafes that want to accept cryptocurrencies is the lack of widespread use of digital currencies. This issue is especially important in developing countries. In this regard, there are venues that have found a solution to install an encryption machine and exchange the French currency for BTC, so that anyone who wants to try something new but lacks cryptocurrency can use the machine. The move was launched in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, which is a unique coffee shop and collaborative center project where payments are made to fully use digital currency.
But this also means that when a restaurant does not pay for the transaction, the customer may encounter a relatively high transaction fee in some cases. A customer at a restaurant in Ukraine paid about 21% for the payment, and he shared his negative experiences online:
Very suitable for promotion, but not suitable for large-scale use
In most cases, Bitcoin is accepted by local small cafes or family restaurants. Representatives of many large chain stores are testing this feature in individual locations, but have not introduced it on a large scale. Some news about Bitcoin being accepted can be simply attributed to public relations activities and becoming a headline in the case of increasingly popular cryptocurrencies.
In many respects, the reasons for the slow development of cryptocurrency in the catering industry are related to regulatory issues, the ambiguity of the legal status of digital currency, and consumer distrust of a new type of payment.
At the same time, with the popularity of Bitcoin in advanced cities such as Arnhem, it also heralds the arrival of a future cashless society.
Compile: Sharing Finance Neo