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McDonald's orders 7,000 touchscreen kiosks to replace cashiers

McDonald's recently added 64,000 people to its payroll in the United States, but job prospects in Europe for those so inclined to work in the fast food industry are looking pretty grim right about now. That's because the fast food giant is poised to add touchscreen kiosks in more than 7,000 of its restaurants in Europe in effort to replace actual, human cashiers.

McDonald's Europe President Easterbrook told the Financial Times (subscription required), via The Sydney Morning Herald, that the touchscreen kiosks should help speed up customer transactions up to three or four seconds. The European eateries currently serve about 2 million people per day; McDonald's hopes it will get even more people to flock in through their doors.

Electronic menus that replace physical beings is nothing new. Microsoft has been pushing its touchscreen computer, the Surface, which has mostly been a big hit at Vegas casinos, hotels, and clubs — where users can order from the table, play around with the image onscreen, and... "flirt" with people at other tables. For the last couple of years, there have been touchscreen kiosks stationed at at least seven McDonald's restaurants in Australia. McDonald's says they have no interest in replacing cashiers with kiosks in Australia, however, or anywhere else for that matter.

Besides monetary incentive, and not to mention that the kiosks will also be getting rid of cash transactions since they only accept credit or debit cards, the kiosks are also a way to gather statistical information about people's eating habits, said Easterbrook. The company could potentially track every last thing you order (or perhaps offer you a free Big Mac with every ten that you purchase?).

"Ordering food has not changed for 30 or 40 years," Easterbrook said, reasoning the addition of touchscreen kiosks.

Details regarding the cost of the technology or when it will be rolled out were not disclosed.

Image credit: Flickr user melpenguin

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