US fast food major Burger King has announced its own virtual currency for customers in Russia, a country which has historically been critical of cryptocurrencies. In fact, Russian authorities have previously expressed reservation against the concept of digital currency and have reportedly said in the past that some bitcoin traders could face jail time.
The digital currency, called Whoppercoin, comes under a new blockchain loyalty programme and is being used as a marketing tool to attract customers towards its Whopper burger.
The franchise has partnered with cryptocurrency start-up Waves to host the programme on its platform. Waves will keep a track of the Whoppercoins issued while allowing users to swap and trade blockchain tokens on a peer-to-peer exchange.
The dedicated asset page for Whoppercoin describes it as "a token for buying burgers in Russian Burger King outlets and for the stock exchange".
According to the new programme, Burger King customers in Russia will be entitled to one Whoppercoin for every rouble they spend (£1=76 roubles, $1=59 roubles). The coins will be stored in a digital wallet accounts provided by the company and could be redeemed to buy a Whopper burger once sufficient currency (1,700 Whoppercoins to be exact) has been accumulated.
As of now, nearly one billion Whoppercoins are in supply in the country, with Burger King planning to introduce more in the near future. The fast food giant is also set to introduce Android and iOS apps for the programme.
Burger King's new cryptocurrency is quite similar to bitcoins. It can be traded and transferred, but the value is far lesser and it can only be used for buying food at the company's outlets.
As of now, the blockchain program is only available in Russia.