Posted January 19, 2011 8:11 am by with 8 comments

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Starbucks is busy keeping itself ahead of the curve. First, there is the Starbucks logo change ‘controversy’ (I use the term very lightly but it did get people talking). Now, the retail and branding giant has rolled out the mobile payment plan it forst introduced in 2009 to 6,800 Starbucks locations and outlets.

According to the Seattle Times

The clever mobile payment system that Starbucks has been testing in a few stores in Seattle, New York and Silicon Valley is going national.

Starbucks is announcing that it has expanded the “pay by phone” program to 6,800 of its stores, plus more than 1,000 outlets inside Target stores. It began testing the system at a few stores in September 2009.

To use the system, Starbucks cardholders load an application onto their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphones. The application displays a barcode that’s scanned at the register to pay for drinks. Users can also manage Starbucks accounts and find nearby stores with the application.

Here is how the app looks when in action.

More information from the Starbucks release

One in five Starbucks transactions is now made with the store cards, and mobile payments “will extend the way our customers experience and use their Starbucks Card,” Brady Brewer, vice president of card and brand loyalty, said in a release. “With mobile payment, the Starbucks Card platform further elevates the customer experience by delivering convenience, rewarding loyalty and continuing to build an emotional connection with our customers.”

That loyalty translated into a 21% increase in how much money was loaded onto cards last year with that number hitting $1.5 billion. That’s a lot of mocha frappa half calf double decaf no whip thingamawhatzits for sure.

Starbucks claims it is the largest mobile payment business currently (we’ll have to take their word for it). Android phones are next for an app but maybe Starbucks will wait to see if those pesky things are still in existence after the iPhone comes to Verizon.

  • Definitely an interesting development and some of my friends have already used it this morning. But what does the end user get in exchange for the loyalty apart from an app and “an emotional connection”? Does this come bundled with some kind of loyalty program too?

    • Good question Geno. I wondered the same thing myself. If there were future discounts or offers that were only given to mobile pay users then you are talking about a true value add and a reason for people to adopt it more readily.

      • Exactly my thinking, Frank.

      • Thanks for the post. Currently, the app is wrapped in with their My Starbucks Rewards Program available to giftcard owners. It would be interesting to see though if Starbucks adds more incentive to the mobile program.

  • Starbucks in iphone rocks… 😉

  • I’m still waiting for them to use near field communication for payment … and for me to start drinking coffee 🙂 Dave

    • @Dave Haven’t heard any NFC (that’s the OTHER NFC – near field communications, if there was ever something that needs another acronym this is the one). Google has been talking about it as well as many other LBS’s. Should be interesting once that is in more widespread use.

  • I am also pondering what incentive there is to use the app. The convenience of busting out a card is a bit easier than trying to open up an app at the moment…

    I want to use it.. just can’t see good reasons yet.