Fast-food chain Burger King has become the first major corporate to launch its own crypto-currency, branded as WhopperCoin.
Customers in Russia can now claim one coin for every rouble (1.3p) they spend on the Whopper sandwich. Once they have collected 1,700 whoppercoins, they will be able to buy a Whopper with the virtual cash.
Burger King has partnered with crypto-cash start-up Waves to run the blockchain ledger for the coin to keep track of who has coins and what has been done with them. Customers will be able to claim their coins by scanning a receipt with their smartphone. Similar to Bitcoin, the crypto-currency could be shut down abuse is detected.
Dr Garrick Hileman, research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said Burger King was the first major corporate brand to issue its own crypto-cash but he expected others to follow. "Traditional loyalty programs, such as airline miles, typically have a fairly limited range of exchange options," he said. The ease with which the branded crypto-currencies could be traded for other national currencies or even other assets could make them "more compelling" than a standard loyalty scheme, he added.