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Happier Meals


Every second counts when serving a customer, and by capitalizing on Internet Protocol technology, McDonald’s is cutting card transaction times in its restaurants down to less than four seconds.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain, which first served up electronic card payment options in 2002, is happy to help card-carrying diners pay for orders at a rate that beats cash-based transactions. In fact, the quick-service giant was one of the first companies in its category to offer a cashless payment solution to customers, long before it became an industry standard to accept debit and credit cards.

“We realized that having customers fumble for dollars and cents was just unnecessary if they could swipe a card and go,” said David Grooms, VP and CIO of McDonald’s North America.

McDonald’s made the concept a reality with the help of First Data, a Denver-based payment solutions provider that supports credit and debit processing to McDonald’s 14,000 restaurants nationwide.

When customers present a card for payment at the point of sale, they swipe it through a dedicated terminal. The unit electronically requests user authorization through a secure network linked to First Data, and the solution provider approves or declines the transaction.

Upon electronically receiving the card approval, the fee is charged to a credit card or deducted from a debit card, depending on the payment option being used. McDonald’s POS application transfers the completed transaction data in batch settlement before it is posted to the consumer’s payment card.

The process happens within two to four seconds.

To save diners even more time at POS, McDonald’s does not require a signature for purchased meals under $25, and receipts are only provided if requested by the cardholder.

“Since implementation, we have really seen a difference in how the POS process runs and have really benefited from the value of cashless payments,” Grooms said. “The speed of service impacts our front-end operations, and it makes a lasting impression on our customers.”

First Data also supports McDonald’s Arch Card gift-card program and provides the fast-food chain with online tools that deliver access to real-time transaction data and interchange management services.

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