Starbucks launched a mobile payment system expected to go live today in 6,800 independent Starbucks stores and 1,000 stores that are in Target stores nationwide. Customers with a BlackBerry or an iPhone or an iPod touch can download the Starbucks Card Mobile application and add their Starbucks card information to the application. This application may be familiar to some customers as this payment system was deployed in a few test locations last year.
The application lets you track rewards and reload your balance using PayPal or a create card. When you visit a local Starbucks, you only need to select “Touch to Pay” on your mobile phone and hold up the barcode to the special 2-D scanner that will be installed at each register. Currently, the application is available for BlackBerry and iOS. An Android application is under development and will be available at an undisclosed date in the future.
While PayPal, Bling Nation and other services have been making advances in mobile payment processing, this new service at Starbucks is perhaps the most mainstream of the bunch. Starbucks boasts of approximately 7,800 locations in the U.S. and with its coffee flavor blends and tasty food, it is an extremely popular stomping ground for those seeking coffee and food on the go.
Starbucks says there is a demand for this type of payment service from its customers. According to Starbucks, over one third of its customers use a smartphone and one in five use a Starbucks card at checkout. Noticing these two trends, the coffee giant decided to create a quick and easy way for customers to pay without opening their purse or wallet.
Interestingly enough, Starbuck’s decided to go with standard barcode scanning and not NFC technology for its mobile payment service. Starbucks selected barcode scanning because most support the technology. NFC is relatively new in the U.S. and few handsets support the technology. As NFC advances, Starbucks expects to adapt its system to this new technology when the adoption rate climbs high enough.