Mobile payment applications are the fastest and most convenient way to shop, not just online, but now for retail stores and restaurants across America. Knowing this, several different tech companies are trying to become the best mobile payment service available, starting a race of sorts. Start-up company Square Inc. got an early lead by becoming the exclusive mobile payment service accepted by Starbucks, but PayPal us looking to steal that momentum. How? By changing the way you order French fries.

After already winning over Home Depot and 15 other retailers, PayPal is testing a mobile payment application at 30 McDonald’s restaurants in France, and if things go well, will extend availability to all of its over 30,000 restaurants the world over.

“If they can shave 10 seconds off wait times, same-store sales could go up a lot,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “It’s substantial.”

McDonald’s customers would order using an application, or over the Internet, on smart phones using PayPal. A separate line at test locations is exclusively for picking up PayPal orders.

I’ve never really considered a credit or debit card to be inconvenient enough to warrant a mobile alternative for ordering a Big Mac, but I’m not necessarily against mobile payment applications. Even if I don’t think it’s entirely necessary, I think the idea is interesting enough. However, I don’t like the idea of one service or another being the “exclusive” mobile payment method for specific retailers. Granted, it makes things more convenient for the retailer, but more complicated for their customers. What if I want to go to both Starbucks and Home Depot? If they don’t both accept the same mobile payment application, then it’s not worth it to me to use either. Also, although shaving ten seconds off waiting in line at McDonald’s really adds up by the end of the day, I don’t think it means a whole lot to the individual customer. So in my opinion, using PayPal or Square at retailers is an interesting idea, but it doesn’t seem to offer enough benefit for me to see it taking off.

Then again, my grandmother still says the same thing about debit cards, so who knows?


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