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article imageOp-Ed: Burger King Russia issues its own cryptocurrency Whopper Coin

By Ken Hanly     Aug 30, 2017 in Technology
Russia has a new cryptocurrency created by American-based global fast food monarch Burger King. It is named after one of the company's products the Whopper so is called the Whopper Coin.
The Whopper Coin is actually part of a loyalty program but based on the same blockchain technology as bitcoin and a number of other cryptocurrencies. Burger King said that it would release Apple and Android apps next month that will enable people to save, share and even trade their coins. To look after the ledger that keeps track of who has the coins, spends them etc, Burger King has partnered with the startup Waves.
Russian Burger King customers will obtain one Whopper Coin for every rouble they spend on a Whopper. However, it takes a whopping 1,700 Whopper Coins to buy a Whopper. Customers will need a smartphone that can scan their receipt to receive their coins. Waves says it has already generated one billion Whopper Coins to use in the scheme. The Whopper at present must cost quite a few roubles as the BBC claims: "The current cost of a Whopper in Russia suggests customers will be able to get a free sandwich for every five or six they buy with real money." Some patrons of the Burger King in Russia have already claimed on social media that they had managed to claim Whopper Coins. Many other corporations may decide to replace their existing loyalty programs with the type of cryptocurrency-based system used by Burger King in Russia.
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Dr Garrick Hileman, a research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said that Burger King in Russia was the first major corporate brand to use cryptocurrency but he expected others to follow suit. He noted that present loyalty programs such as air miles have limited exchange options, but cryptocurrencies could be traded for national currencies or other assets. However, Hileman notes that MacDonald's is not likely to accept Whopper Coins in payment for Big Macs.
This could change in the future though, depending on what the value of the coins become in national currency. It might make sense for MacDonald's to accept them at near their value in the national currency. Emin Gun Sirer an associate professor at Cornell University said that reward points are a good case for the use of blockchain technology. Sirer is a director of the initiative Cryptocurrencies and Contracts.
Ivan Shestov, head of External Communications of Burger King Russia makes the Whopper Coin seem to be a marvellous new investment vehicle: "Now Whopper is not only a burger that people in 90 different countries love – it’s an investment tool as well. According to the forecasts, cryptocurrency will increase exponentially in value. Eating Whoppers now is a strategy for financial prosperity tomorrow." Max Pertovskiy of Waves naturally also had positive things to say: ‘We are glad that Burger King Russia has chosen Waves as a platform for its loyalty program launch and Whoppercoin distribution. We are sure that this decision will promote blockchain technology in Russia and will enable the promotion of its benefits and possibilities for a wide audience."
Burger King is a huge global Florida-based fast food corporation: "As of December 31, 2016, Burger King reported it had 15,738 outlets in 100 countries. Of these, 47.5 percent are in the United States and 99.5 percent are privately owned and operated, with its new owners moving to an almost entirely franchised model in 2013." Perhaps U.S. President Trump will tweet about this matter claiming that the Whopper Coin will improve relations between Russia and the U.S. Critics will say that the move is actually an attempt to sabotage U.S. loyalty programs by getting them to adopt the same schemes as the Russian Whopper Coin.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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