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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 22, 2007 • Issue 07:10:02

Kinks at the QSR drive-thru

In today's world, home-cooked meals are only a daydream for many. Hoping to save time at the POS, the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry has implemented contactless and magnetic stripe card readers at drive-thrus nationwide. But what if the new terminals were actually stalling the checkout process?

Lin King, Manager of Jack In The Box in the San Francisco Bay Area, said although the terminals are in great condition, it's difficult for most consumers to use them.

"The customers slide their cards halfway, and it won't register," King said. She also mentioned drivers sometimes park too far away from the readers, or their cards don't register the first time. King said her employees have been swiping credit and debit cards inside the window because the terminals are starting to slow down the drive-thru.

According to Mohammad Khan, President and Founder of ViVOtech Inc., 60% of fast-food sales in 2006 were from the drive-thru. "We see a very good trend," he said.

The ViVOtech ViVOPay system allows for contactless or magnetic stripe payment at drive-thrus at restaurants such as Jack In The Box and Arby's.

Although Khan has not heard directly from his customers of any problems, his employees have given feedback. Many of them have contactless cards and pay with ease at the drive-thru. But those who need to use the mag-stripe paint a different picture.

According to Khan, one difference is the height of the vehicle for mag-stripe consumers. "If it's a normal height car, I think it's a normal manner to swipe the card," he said.

But in a sports utility vehicle (SUV), paying at the drive-thru window could be a challenge. "You are so far away from the reader at that point," Khan said. "I think [the reader] could be positioned a lot better because it has an extended arm."

Edward Mastrangelo, Director of Unattended Products at Hypercom Corp., said SUVs weigh into the equation when producing new terminals. The company has two products that fit vertically and horizontally so they are as "easy to use as possible."

Although the terminals are not heavy, Khan noted that their bulkiness can also be a flaw. To counter this, ViVOtech is producing systems that come in different sizes, so a terminal can go under the window, or on the side of the wall. "We have made it smaller as well, so it's easier to mount," Khan said.

Hypercom will also update its products. Like all other companies, Mastrangelo said, Hypercom is facing Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance and "there will be a next generation" of models. The goal is not only to give the fast-food industry a better product, but one that will be consumer-friendly. end of article

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