Ordering a McDonald's ( MCD) Big Mac may soon be as easy as tapping a button on a smartphone.
"We will be piloting ordering capabilities through mobile in some geographies outside the United States this year," McDonald's chief digital officer Atif Rafiq told TheStreet in an interview. Rafiq, who worked at Amazon (AMZN) and Yahoo (YHOO) before joining McDonald's in 2013, declined to specify where mobile ordering would be tested but said, "it's important for us to work out the kinks so we can scale it up as soon as possible."
Indeed, Rafiq and his digital team at McDonald's are a busy bunch right now as CEO Steve Easterbrook works to modernize the chain's customer experience. McDonald's is simultaneously working on its first-ever national loyalty initiative, building out the technological infrastructure and e-mail database (through app downloads) required to support a successful rewards program. The app currently offers only basic functions, such as a restaurant locator and menu details.
In 2015, McDonald's added a rewards program to its app for beverages in test markets such as California and New York City. When a customer buys five McCafe beverages, he or she receives a sixth one free. So far, the McDonald's app has been loaded about 7.5 million times.
"I think McDonald's is just getting started [on digital]," says TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer. McDonald's is likely hoping it can channel some of the success that fast-food rivals such as Domino's Pizza (DPZ) and Papa John's (PZZA) have had with their mobile ordering platforms in recent years.
TheStreet talked with Rafiq at length about McDonald's digital transformation; a condensed version is below.