‘Fast food’ gets faster: McDonald’s tests mobile app

Cate Gillon Getty Images May 8 2012

By Doug Gross, CNN

(CNN) — As noted philosopher Vincent Vega said in “Pulp Fiction,” the French may not know what a Quarter Pounder is.

But McDonald’s customers in Paris can now pay for a Royale with Cheese using their smartphones or tablets — a concept that could spread to the company’s 33,500 locations worldwide if the fast-food leader likes the results.

Customers at 30 locations in France are now able to order their meals using the McDonald’s mobile app, pay for it via PayPal, then join a separate line to pick up their food, according to a Reuters report.

The trial is part of a rapidly growing consumer-service trend of skipping cash, and even credit cards, in favor of a quick tap from a mobile phone.

Major retailers from Target to Best Buy to 7-Eleven have teamed up to create the Merchant Customer Exchange. The group is developing a mobile app that would allow customers to pay for goods at participating stores’ registers with their smartphones. The app will also give users exclusive coupons and deals.

Square, a mobile app and phone attachment created by one of the founders of Twitter, is gaining traction as a tool for small businesses to accept credit-card payments and this month signed a deal with Starbucks for the coffee behemoth to begin accepting payments through the app.

And Google Wallet aims to be no less than a single tool that turns your phone into your wallet, driver’s license and house key.

PayPal, long a leader in Web transactions, is fighting to stay in the forefront of the mobile-payment game. In addition to the McDonald’s deal, PayPal has signed up with such retailers as Home Depot.

McDonald’s showcased an even more in-depth mobile payment app earlier this year at a conference in Orlando, Reuters reports.