McDonald's claims the payment system, which will be launched by the end of the summer this year for purchases of less than £15, will be one of the largest roll-outs of contactless technology in the UK.
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Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK, said, "We were the first major quick-service restaurant to launch payment by cards and we're delighted to be leading the way again with the roll-out of contactless payment technology."
Howard Wilcox, senior analyst at Juniper Research, said, "This is a major step for contactless payments in the UK in raising awareness of the technology. From McDonald's point of view, it's very important because it enables it to increase the speed of payment and reduce queues.
"This comes shortly after the Starbucks announcement of mobile phone payments in the States. Both pave the way for mobile payments in the future," added Wilcox.
Contactless-enabled debit and credit cards allow customers to pay for purchases at a point of sale by touching their card on a wireless reader without entering a PIN.
An aggregated limit for contactless transactions and periodical PIN checks are used for security purposes.
IBM's cashless payment system will support McDonald's contactless payments in UK and Ireland after the two companies signed a three-year agreement last year.