Chicago-In its ongoing quest to cut service times for fast food, McDonald's Corp. said it's expanding a range of electronic payment systems that let customers buy burgers without the hassle of digging out bills or credit cards.

In the Chicago area, McDonald's home market, regional operators recently voted to give their more than 400 area stores the option of letting customers purchase Quarter Pounders, french fries and other menu items using a payment device designed by Exxon Mobil Corp. three years ago for use primarily at its Mobil gas stations.

Customers wave Speedpass-a small barrel-shaped radio transponder-at a reader located at a McDonald's drive-thru or a counter inside the restaurant. Mobil lets customers link the Speedpass to a major credit card, which subsequently adds the McDonald's transactions to their monthly bill.

"It's clear that cashless payments are something our customers are very interested in," Lisa Howard of McDonald's told Reuters. The Speedpass system has been tested in nine Chicago area stores since October 2000 before franchisees decided to expand it to their entire market, she adds. -Reuters