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McDonald’s tests tap-and-go mobile payments tied to debit card

April 4, 2013

A McDonald’s restaurant in Canada has completed NFC-based mobile tap-and-go transactions funded from a debit card account to support real-time sales via a smartphone.

Merchants are looking for ways to leverage mobile to make it easier for customers to quickly pay for their purchases. In the McDonald’s test, users leveraged NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones to pay for their orders securely via funds that were immediately deducted from a RBC Royal Bank debit account.

“We have now conducted the first in-market, real time transactions for mobile Interac Flash,” said Caroline Hubberstey, head of external affairs for Interac Association, Toronto. “This achievement was made possible with the assistance of RBC, McDonald’s, Moneris and BlackBerry.

“The successful transactions that have taken place bring us a step closer to rolling out Interac Flash from a mobile phone later this year,” she said. “We are now actively working with Issuers to make this happen.

“Today, customers who have an Interac Flash enabled bank card (RBC, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust and Sunova Credit Union offer this enhanced functionality) can use the card at any McDonald’s restaurant.  This acceptance capability makes McDonald’s and other Interac Flash accepting merchants well-poised to accept mobile Interac Flash when it becomes available later this year.”

Contactless POS
Interac Association operates a payment network available through 60,000 ATMs and at 766,000 POS terminals across Canada. Interac Flash is the company’s contactless debit solution, which is being expanded to mobile devices.

The mobile payment solution enables users with an NFC-enabled phone with the Interac Flash application installed to hold it in front of an Interac Flash contactless POS terminal and complete a debit transaction in real-time.

One of the challenges of NFC payments is the need to bring together several different stakeholders to enable a transaction. In this example, Interac worked with McDonald’s, RBC Royal Bank, Moneris and BlackBerry.

The benefit is that users can easily make secure payments for everyday purchases using their mobile phone and have the transactions funded by their debit cards, which many are already comfortable with.

Users can also make a purchase and immediately check their online bank balance from the same mobile device.

“The move to mobile payments will be an evolution and both customer and merchant adoption will drive growth,” Ms. Hubberstey said. “Customers will need to get comfortable and confident with the technology and it will be important for merchants to build value-added propositions to garner more value.”

The necessary infrastructure
The Interac Flash mobile payments solutions is expected to roll out later this year.

Mobile Interac Flash uses EMVTM technology and the existing chip debit infrastructure to ensure that transactions are secure.

NFC-enabled mobile payments are already available in the United States through Google Wallet and Isis on a limited basis.

“Canada is well-positioned to roll out mobile NFC payments because of our conversion to chip technology and the abundance of contactless terminals at point-of-sale, such as for Interac Flash,” Ms. Hubberstey said. “This infrastructure makes the transition to mobile NFC payments a natural extension.

“McDonald’s accepts Interac Debit and is now actually fully enabled to accept Interac Flash at all of their stores across the country,” she said. “Mobile Interac Flash is a natural acceptance next step as it offers all the benefits of Interac Debit and Interac Flash for their business and customers, but in the mobile form factor.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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