When Colonel Harland Sanders created the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1955, he couldn't possibly envision how customers in Europe would pay for his fried chicken in 2013.
Many will soon use a KFC mobile wallet to feed their fried-chicken cravings.
KFC launched a new mobile application April 3 in the U.K. to allow consumers to place and pay for their chicken orders in advance to avoid lines at the restaurants.
Airtag developed the mobile app for tests with KFC UK & Ireland Inc. Based on those tests, KFC will decide whether to roll out the technology in other European countries and possibly the U.S.
Airtag, a Paris-based company, builds white-label software-as-a-service technology for mobile ordering and payments.
KFC’s initial test of Airtag’s Airshop application, which will be called KFC Fast Track, takes place in 10 restaurants throughout the U.K. for iPhone users or as a Web application, Airtag states in a press release.
After opening the app and activating its geolocation technology, consumers select a nearby KFC restaurant, create an order and pay with a credit-card account connected to the app. The application displays a QR code associated with the order. When arriving at the restaurant, the consumer scans the QR code at a KFC Fast Track kiosk and picks up the food at a checkout line dedicated to the fast track users, Airtag says.
The app uses a mobile check-in feature to allow the user to pick up an order at any time of the day on which the order is placed. Eventually the application will allow the consumer to perform the mobile check-in prior to entering the restaurant, Airtag says.
The increase in mobile-ordering and payment applications branded for fast-food or coffee shops represent "the start of a discussion that has a long way to go yet" in determining which mobile payment technology consumers prefer, says Gareth Lodge, a London-based industry analyst with Celent.
"Your phone is rapidly becoming the wallet of wallets," Lodge says. Speed of the ordering process and usability of the app are key factors, Lodge adds.
Rewards will "play an increasing part as to which gets used," Lodge says. "Card companies have long talked about wanting to be 'top of wallet,' but I think the more complicated battleground will be 'top of phone.' "
It is possible that a feature such as proximity-based offers could "simply drive the decision before the choice of wallet is even made," he adds.
Airtag CEO Jeremie Leroyer was not available for an interview prior to deadline today.
For its part, KFC is looking to add customer convenience to its chicken recipe.
"Our customers lead increasingly busy lives and KFC Fast Track is focused on
helping them order, pay for and collect their food faster than ever before," Paul Borrett, IT director of KFC UK & Ireland, states in the release.
KFC plans to work with Airtag during the testing period to add "many more innovative features to KFC Fast Track in the coming months," Borrett says.
KFC UK & Ireland is a unit of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants.