Chipotle Mexican Grill customers can pay for their next burrito with bitcoin.
The Mexican chain now accepts digital currency at all of its nearly 3,000 U.S. restaurants under a partnership with cryptocurrency payment network Flexa, Flexa said Wednesday. In doing so, it becomes possibly the largest U.S. restaurant chain to accept cryptocurrency.
Customers with a digital wallet that integrates with Flexa can open the app, select Chipotle and scan a unique barcode to pay for their meal with one of nearly 100 currencies. Flexa processes the payment "in under a second," it said, and then settles with Chipotle in either fiat or crypto.
It was unclear which option Chipotle will choose. Flexa doesn't share how its partners receive their payouts, said co-founder Trevor Filter in an emailed statement. "What we can disclose is that while many merchants choose to receive payouts in their local currency, more and more merchants are beginning to explore holding digital assets on their balance sheet," he said.
Chipotle did not respond to a request for comment.
The Newport Beach, Calif.-based chain has waded into the world of crypto before. Last April, it gave away $100,000 in bitcoin to celebrate National Burrito Day. It said it was the first U.S. restaurant brand to offer crypto as a customer giveaway.
Crypotcurrency payment has been gradually catching on at restaurants as digital coins like bitcoin and others become more mainstream. Potential benefits include more flexible payment options for customers and more secure transactions enabled by the blockchain. But overall penetration in restaurants remains very low. As of last summer, only about 1% of restaurants accepted cryptocurrency, according to a survey by Technomic, and just 4% expected to do so in the next two years.
Flexa was offering customers 10% off their next Chipotle order when they pay using any digital currency in a Flexa-enabled app.
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