No, McDonald’s Isn’t Launching a Cryptocurrency, Despite What It Appears

July 30, 2018, 1:35 PM UTC

McDonald’s, on Sunday, unveiled the MacCoin—and the business world shuttered. Given the still-fresh memory of Kodak’s announcement it would launch its own cryptocurrency, many feared the restaurant chain was hopping on the bandwagon as well.

Fortunately, even though McDonald’s announcement touted the MacCoin as the “first fully food-backed global currency,” it’s not a Bitcoin alternative. It’s actually just a heavier-than-usual coupon for a free burger.

The chain is rolling out the tokens at 14,000 restaurants in 50 countries starting August 2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac. Buy the sandwich and get a MacCoin to get another at some point (that is, assuming you’re not a collector; McDonald’s will rollout five designs of the coin, one for each decade the Big Mac has been around).

McDonald’s had been ramping up the free food for customers as U.S. sales have cooled down. The company beat Wall Street expectations in its second quarter earnings, but revenue was down 12% and sales at U.S. stores grew at a slower pace than expected.

Earlier this month, the chain announced it would give away a free order of French fries every Friday to customers who use its mobile app and spend more than $1 on their order.

The giveaways also follow the PR black eye that came with reports linking McDonald’s salads to an intestinal illness.