Burger King, today announced their partnership with Qualcomm to deploy FireThorn mobile payments into approximately 50 Burger King restaurants in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area. With FireThorn, users will be able to use their Android or iOS based smartphones to scan a QR code/tag placed on the counter or drive-through window of participating Burger King restaurants and pay for their meals without ever taking out their wallets.

By Burger King beginning a pilot program with mobile payments, there is a good chance that such a program could rapidly expand into an entire nation-wide program. The real benefit of having such an application does not only enable users to not take out their wallets or cash, but it also allows companies like Burger King to be able to communicate with their customers better by offering them deals via mobile payments and to offer users location based discounts. While the details of this program are scarce, there is no doubt that such pilot programs are going to be used to test out new promotional methods and to improve engagement with customers.

Currently, FireThorn’s mobile payment technology is based upon QR code scanning, which is a somewhat archaic method of payment when you consider NFC [near field communications] has existed for quite some time. The problem, though, is that there needs to be an infrastructure put in place to support NFC from both sides (both the consumer and the business). Currently, there are a lot of devices that support NFC and NFC mobile payments, but the infrastructure for receiving NFC payments is what is really holding back adoption. As such, programs like FireThorn have resorted to using QR codes in the short term until NFC technologies become more ubiquitous.

While FireThorn hasn’t officially stated their plans anywhere on their site to go NFC, there is no doubt that NFC is the next evolution of Qualcomm’s program and is designed to help ease big companies into the mobile payment arena. The BK® Mobile Crown Card application, which is aptly named BK®, is powered by Firethorn Mobile payments service and can be found in the App StoreSM and Google Play. The BK® Mobile Crown Card is a First Data Universal Commerce integrated application and leverages the payment processor?s secure prepaid technology.