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(Sept. 4, 2001) SAO PAULO -- As part of a $100 million plan to firmly establish McDonald's Brazil on the Internet and build its presence on the ground, the company is introducing Web access in 51 restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

"McInternet" will cost McDonald's $800,000, but the service will be free to customers who have proof of any McDonald's purchase. Surfers will be able to use home banking and play games and will soon be given individual e-mail addresses. They will also be able to take part in chat forums with other McDonald's customers.

Sao Paulo will have 31 of the first group of Web-enabled stores, scheduled for September; Rio de Janeiro will have 20. Each will have between four and eight terminals, available for use during commercial hours.

The move is part of a wider strategy at McDonald's Brazil to set up an Internet home-delivery service, with payment by credit card. Technology Director Erich Roedel told a Brazilian financial newspaper the company wants to be on the Web in 2002. It will begin with home delivery by phone this year.

Ragvinder Rekhi, McDonald's new technologies vice president, said he believes McInternet will help popularize use of the Web in Brazil.

McDonald's tried payment by credit card in the '90s but gave it up because of high processing costs. It is now testing the payment method again in 11 restaurants.

McDonald's has 1,160 points of purchase in Brazil. They consist of 570 restaurants, with the remainder being kiosks, which serve mainly ice cream products and sweet pies.

McDonald's products are distributed in 126 cities across 21 states. -- Claudia Penteado

Copyright September 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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