McDonald’s has launched a new physical currency called MacCoin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac, one of its most popular hamburgers. MacCoin will be the first currency in the world to be backed by hamburgers; each MacCoin can be redeemed for a Big Mac. This is also possibly the first currency backed by McDonald’s, a global company that has over 36,000 restaurants that pulled in USD 24.6 billion of revenue in 2016.
There will only be 6.2 million MacCoins ever minted and they will be distributed in the 50+ countries where MacCoins are accepted. Every customer who buys a Big Mac gets a MacCoin, essentially making it a “buy one get one free” deal. The distribution began on 2 August 2018 at lunchtime. Considering McDonald’s gets an estimated 69 million customers every day, it is probable that all the MacCoins will be distributed within the first day or two.
The MacCoins can be exchanged for a Big Mac, which is about USD 5. But Big Mac price varies from restaurant to restaurant and will go up over time due to inflation. In theory, this gives the MacCoin value and makes it a currency that should be quite simple for people to start exchanging for money outside of McDonald’s. Right after launch, MacCoin had a market cap near USD 31 million.
The supply of MacCoins circulating in the public will decline over time as people redeem them for BigMacs. There is no indication that McDonald’s will be destroying these coins. They could end up holding them in a corporate vault, since the MacCoins will be worth money and can potentially be sold for cash.
Its scarcity also makes the MacCoins collectible, added to the rarity of a well-known corporation like McDonald’s to issue its own currency.
In the typical coin economy, once supplies of MacCoins run out at stores and leave public circulation due to redemption, the price of MacCoin should go up, if demand continues. Since MacCoin is not based on any blockchain, however, there is no way to verify supply, even if the name might tempt users to draw comparisons to cryptocurrency.
Just because a currency is backed by something doesn’t mean that it can’t go higher, it just means it can’t go lower. Demand should determine the price of MacCoins in the future, rather than the price of a Big Mac.
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