- Burger King Russia has launched a unique reward program for its customers, a bitcoin derivative called "WhopperCoin," according to CNBC.
- The Russian government recently became more receptive to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and Burger King Russia is giving customers who buy the fast food chain's signature Whopper hamburger WhopperCoin tokens in a digital wallet. Customers can save the tokens to buy burgers once they've collected enough, as well as transfer or trade them online, adding a monetary value and aspect of exchange that most rewards programs don't include.
- Transactions around WhopperCoins will be handled by Waves' blockchain platform. The program has the popular menu item double as an investment opportunity, according to Ivan Shestov, head of external communications at Burger King Russia, and per CNBC.
The WhopperCoin concept is an out-of-the-box approach to a rewards program but not without some risk. A proposed Russian legislation last year included possible jail time for bitcoin users, per CNBC, though the publication reported Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, has since come out in favor of the cryptocurrency. Blockchain, the ledger-based transaction system that underlies cryptocurrency, is also an especially nascent technology — one that's valued for its security and transparency proposition but is largely unproven on a mass scale.
While part of the WhopperCoin play seems like a fun stunt — Burger King Russia's Shestov said "Eating Whoppers now is a strategy for financial prosperity tomorrow," according to CNBC — it also points to cryptocurrency's potential for reshaping the way brands interact with consumers and consumers interact with each other. The ability to reward people with digital tokens that can then also be exchanged with fellow customers has serious potential for building out long-term loyalty and repeat purchases of certain products or, in Burger King's case, menu items.
The WhopperCoin news is the latest in a series of off-kilter marketing plays from Burger King's international branches. In June, the chain's newfangled Belgian arm had fans vote on who they thought the real king was — its brand mascot or Belgium's actual King Philippe. That effort drew a rebuke from the royal family and was pulled afterward.