As retailers and tech companies try to figure out how to convert American consumers to a virtual wallet, Starbucks successfully introduces their own mobile payments platform across their nearly 6,800 locations.
We first covered Starbucks mobile payment option back in September of 2009 when they began testing the feature in Seattle and Silicon Valley. With today’s announcement it seems the coffee and latte vendor has seen enough success to roll it out to their several million customers nationwide.
Starbucks Card Mobile App: How it Works
Originally introduced as an iPhone App, the unique applications acts more as a virtual gift card than a wallet. Much like a preloaded gift card, customers can download the app on their iPhone, iPod touch and BlackBerry smartphones (Android coming soon), at which point lets users add their Starbucks Cards, track rewards and reload cards through PayPal or credit card. Once loaded, consumers can pay at the register by holding their phone under a bar code scanner.
As with many retailers who are venturing into the mobile payment space, Starbucks sees the new platform as away to engage with both existing and new customers. In their press release, Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Brand Loyalty shares their position, “Today, one in five Starbucks transactions is made using a Starbucks Card and mobile payment will extend the way our customers experience and use their Starbucks Card.”
Unlike Google and other mobile payment platforms, Starbucks made the choice to use 2-D scanner technology over NFC (near field communication). While the industry sees NFC as the future of mobile payments, Starbucks passed on the technology due to limited availability.
Mobile Payments & Rewards
Introducing the mobile payment option was an easy move for Starbucks due to their already massive customer adoption of the physical Starbucks Card platform. In 2010, customers loaded more than $1.5 billion on Starbucks Cards, an increase of 21 percent over 2009.
The spike in loaded cards was due to the My Starbucks Rewards program that provides benefits to customers who pay with a registered Starbucks Card at participating stores.
To download the Starbucks Card Mobile App and check out mobile payment, BlackBerry smartphone users can text the word “GO” to 70845 or visit the app website for their device (Standard message and data rates apply). It’s available for a variety of BlackBerry smartphones including BlackBerry® 8800 series; BlackBerry® Bold series;BlackBerry® Curve™ series; BlackBerry® Storm™; BlackBerry® Storm2™ and BlackBerry® Tour™.