Fastfood giant Burger King has launched a pilot programme to enable consumers at 100 outlets in the Atlanta area to buy their burgers with Visa cards.

The programme, which will run through 1 September 2002, will also see three restaurants test a new technology at the drive-thru, enabling customers to swipe their cards at the drive-thru order board before placing their food orders. By the time the customer drives up to the food pick-up window, the payment transaction will have already been completed, reducing the amount of time the customer will have to wait.

The payment technology is similar to that which customers already experience at gas pumps across the US.

"The quick service restaurant (QSR) industry has some very unique needs," says Mark Crager, VP, merchant sales, Visa USA: "The fact that BK and its franchisees have agreed to work with us on a pilot is a landmark step in our effort to explore the volume potential in this category and prove that cards can help QSRs meet their business objectives."

The test will determine which card solution will best meet BK's overall needs and will be monitored to determine speed and accuracy of transactions, overall customer satisfaction, average ticket size and other measures.

"At BK, we believe in the convenience of payment cards and the benefits they can bring to our customers and franchisees," said Jonathan Fitzpatrick, director, deployment, BK.

More than 11,000,000 customers visit BK restaurants each day, with the drive-thru accounting for more than 60% of the business. According to BK statistics, more than 90% of purchases are currently made with cash at drive-thrus that accept payment cards.