McDonald’s is making a large splash into the mobile retail payments market. With the mobile payments market expected to reach $720 billion by 2017, firms of comparable size to McDonald’s are constantly searching for ways to expand their digital footprint. Most have taken the iterative approach: a new social media channel, a transactional mobile app, a seamless e-commerce site. However, few have taken the road less travelled – establishing a structured, well-defined corporate partnership.
This past September with the announcement of Apple’s iPhone 6 was the introduction of Apple’s first mobile payments system, fittingly named Apple Pay. Along with the introduction of Apple Pay was a list of partnerships spanning numerous industries at the enterprise level including the largest food retailer in the world, McDonald’s.
This partnership has been in the works for nearly a year, spawned by the hiring of former Amazon executive Atif Rafiq and appointing him Global Digital Officer at McDonald’s. Rafiq is the most outspoken advocate for digital at the food retailer, constantly searching for new venues to push McDonald’s towards complete digital integration. His main objective: for McDonald’s to resemble an e-commerce company.
McDonald’s has had NFC readers in its retail locations for a few years now and is ready to add Apple Pay to its payment repertoire. The retailer is betting on e-commerce in a bold manner and hoping, if successful, it will lead to a digital transformation in the way consumers purchase their fast food meals.
The partner list for Apple Pay is extremely impressive, targeting credit card companies (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, Capital One), and retailers (McDonald’s, Duane Reade, Staples, Walgreens, Whole Foods Market, among others).
The largest hurdle for Apple Pay and its partners (e.g. McDonald’s) to overcome is quite simply, human nature. We as humans are inherently habitual. Credit cards and cash are secure, safe, easy and most importantly familiar. Albeit mobile payments do indeed possess a certain “coolness” factor from the consumer’s perspective, all retailers truly care about is that a transaction is executed. The “how” is secondary.
Apple is keen on bringing both the offline and online world together while simultaneously building a better digital user experience. But in order for Apple Pay to reach critical mass adoption, all the elements must make for an ameliorated and tailored experience that is simpler, faster, securer, and most importantly, economically efficient for all parties involved.