Burger King plans to add a mobile-payment option to its domestic stores next month with plans to make the technology available at all of its more than 7,000 units in the United States within a few months, according to a report from Bloomberg. The app will provide coupons and nutrition facts, and will allow payment values to be loaded onto a virtual card, according to the Bloomberg report.

With the news, Miami-based Burger King appears to have beaten its larger quick-service rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s in the race to offer a mobile-payment solution to core quick-service customers, many of whom are younger Millennials comfortable with using their smartphones to conduct a growing number of transactions.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s reportedly has identified a comprehensive mobile platform as a major marketing initiative currently in development and has tested different programs in several markets. Last fall, franchisees in the Midwest and East Coast tested the Front Flip platform in more than 400 locations while the company also tested a “mobile wallet” solution in markets like Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas.

For its part, Wendy’s has not disclosed any plans for mobile payment system. However, the Dublin, Ohio-based brand did tout the success of its “Pretzel Love Songs” campaign with Facebook recently, which gained 75 percent of its more than 85 million impressions through Facebook’s mobile app.

The quest for the first-mover advantage in mobile payments is not limited to the quick-service burger segment, however. Starbucks Coffee said in recent interviews that its upcoming innovations to its mobile platform, including new payment and ordering ahead features, would be the “holy grail” for throughput. Details are likely to be unveiled at Wednesday’s shareholder meeting for the Seattle-based company.

Another coffee heavyweight, Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts, is expected to roll out an upgraded version of its DD Perks mobile-loyalty program in the first quarter. The chain said the platform’s phased introduction began last fall in Dallas; Portland, Maine; Orlando, Fla.; and Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pa.

The DD Perks app surpassed 4 million downloads in the third quarter of 2013, according to Dunkin’ Donuts.

In casual dining, Huntington Beach, Calif.-based BJ’s Restaurants Inc. is testing a mobile system that would allow customers to place orders ahead of time and pay at the table using a smartphone. The move toward a “bring-your-own-device” platform built upon customers’ smartphones stands apart from separate tests and rollouts of guest-facing technology in casual dining, namely at kiosks and tabletop tablets at Applebee’s, Chili’s and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN