McDonald’s has become the latest name to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon - well, almost. Earlier this week, the global fast food giant surprised the world with the announcement of the MacCoin, which they announced as the world’s ‘first fully food-backed global currency’. However, while McDonald’s is presenting it as a cryptocurrency, it is basically a glorified coupon for a free burger. 

The MacCoin was launched by McDonald’s to celebrate 50 years of the Big Mac - one of their most iconic burgers. Starting today, the 2nd of August, customers will begin to receive a MacCoin on the purchase of a Big Mac. This will be made available across 50 countries in the world - and McDonald’s says that they have 6.2 Million MacCoins. Starting tomorrow,  these MacCoins would be redeemable for a free big mac. The US is the biggest market for this as over 13,000 restaurants from the country are participating in this event. 

Since the Big Mac has completed 50 years, the MacCoin issued by McDonald’s would come out in five variants, highlighting the decades over which the Big Mac has evolved. Each of these coins has a design which is commemorative of the past five decades in the form of the art and pop-culture references from the decade. As per McDonald’s news release, the MacCoin would come in the following five design variants:

  • The ‘70s, showcasing the decade’s flower power

  • The ‘80s alluding to pop art

  • The ‘90s defined with bold, abstract shapes

  • The early ‘00s specifically focusing on the technology that was at the forefront of the turn of the century

  • The ‘10s MacCoin calling attention to the evolution of communication

In addition to the design variant, the MacCoin would also be made available in seven languages of the participating nations: Arabic, English, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, French and Spanish. McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook commented on the 50 years of the Big Mac - and why the MacCoin represents the journey and the evolution of the burger, saying: 

“Since it was introduced at a family-owned McDonald’s restaurant 50 years ago, the Big Mac has traversed the globe and is enjoyed in cities from Shanghai to Chicago, providing delicious, feel good moments to people all over the world. So we wanted a global celebration as unique as the burger itself. The MacCoin transcends currencies to commemorate our global iconic burger while giving customers all over the world a chance to enjoy a Big Mac on us.”

Is the MacCoin a Cryptocurrency?

No, the MacCoin is not a “cryptocurrency”. It is a physical token that can be traded for a burger. However, McDonald’s has portrayed it like it is a cryptocurrency - leveraging on the crypto-boom of the recent years. It has also been given the treatment of being a limited currency as only 6.2 Million MacCoins will ever be in circulation. This token is a celebratory, limited-edition memorabilia which could also be redeemed for a free burger. 

Food businesses have tried tapping on the blockchain and crypto space in the past. Most notable of these incidents is that of Long Island Iced Tea Corporation changing its name to Long Blockchain - resulting in the shares of the company spiking by over 280%. Thankfully, McDonald’s is not going for something as drastic as that!