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McDonald’s to roll out mobile order and payment in 2017

The Golden Arches are going digital, with McDonald’s announcing it will begin offering customers the ability to order and pay on their smartphones before picking up their food.

Company spokesperson Becca Hary told Business Insider that the technology will begin rolling out in 2017 in the United States as well as international markets, including Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. By 2018, the company hopes to have the service available in 20,000 to 25,000 restaurants worldwide.

While companies like Starbucks and Chic-fil-A have offered similar services, McDonald’s has lagged behind its competition, only recently adopting digital ordering consoles within its locations, which are expensive. The kiosks, which are in about 7,000 restaurants globally, cost about $125,000 per restaurant to install.

With the kiosks — and later mobile payment systems — communication between customers and employees will decrease, and wait times and order accuracy will improve, the fast food chain hopes.

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McDonald’s had begun testing the service at 22 locations in Columbus, Georgia, but has since finished testing, Ad Age reported.

Neil Saunders, CEO of retail consulting firm Conlumino, told Business Insider that while the mobile order and payment service is nothing new and should be something fairly standard by now, it will help McDonald’s in delighting customers.

“Many customers dislike the process of selecting what they want, standing in line and ordering, and then waiting for their food,” Saunders told Business Insider. “It is the slow bit of fast food. As we have seen with Starbucks, many would prefer to pick what they want in advance and then come and pick the products up when they are ready.”

McDonald’s will hope to emulate some of the success Starbucks has seen with its order-and-pay program last year. About a quarter of the coffee chain’s customers use the service to pay for their orders, and 6 percent use it to order ahead.