Starbucks to Let Customers Pay By Android Phone

Discussion
Jun 15, 2011
George Anderson

The semi-long awaited introduction of a mobile payment app for Android phones at Starbucks is finally here.

The coffee chain, which launched its Starbucks Card Mobile application for other platforms in January, said the new Android app would be available July 15 at all of its 6,800 stores in the U.S. along with 1,000 locations in Target and the same number of Safeway-owned stores.

“The expansion of our mobile payment footprint has been driven by customer interest and input. With the addition of Starbucks for Android to the Starbucks app line-up, a Starbucks mobile payment app may now be used on approximately 90 percent of smartphones currently in use,” said Adam Brotman, vice president, general manager, Digital Ventures at Starbucks Coffee Company, in a press release.

“Our customers have shown us that they love the utility, convenience and fun of our mobile apps and especially the ability to pay with their Starbucks Card using a smartphone,” said Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Loyalty. “While mobile payment is the top feature, customers’ next favorites are the ability to reload their Starbucks Card and track their progress toward their next free drink in the My Starbucks Rewards program.”

Chuck Davidson, category manager for innovation at Starbucks, told Computerworld, that the company processed three million mobile payments in the first nine weeks after introducing its iPhone and Blackberry apps in January.

“That’s a big number in a short period of time, which we achieved with no complaints and no training issues,” Mr. Davidson said.

Mr. Davidson said Starbucks’ success means the chain isn’t waiting on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to process mobile payments.

“Having NFC readers [inside stores] is not the issue; it’s [having enough] NFC [chips] in the phones, which we believe is two-and-a-half to three years out,” Mr. Davidson said.

Discussion Questions: What is your assessment of the progress Starbucks has made in mobile payments? What is your reaction to Chuck Davidson’s view that Near Field Communication technology is not part of the present answer for mobile payments?

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10 Comments on "Starbucks to Let Customers Pay By Android Phone"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Starbucks is right on concentrating on the needs of the immediate market but it would be wise to plan now for the day when NFC becomes a broadly adopted technology–assuming that day will come.

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

No company knows its customers better than Starbucks. The mobile applications are a huge success because the applications are the right fit for the Starbucks customer and because the mobile applications are so well thought out and designed.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

The future just got a lot closer when it comes to payment options. It will be interesting to see this move into other channels.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I agree with the previous comments. Starbucks definitely knows their customers and what they want and are willing to pay for. If not, how could have people waiting in line to pay those high amounts for coffee? Starbucks will be the ground breaker when the “next step” is ready to be born.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Starbucks continues to innovate, but by moving in an incremental fashion based upon what consumers have liked or not. Smart strategy.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Sample size of one here but I read the email on this discussion topic on my Blackberry, while waiting for my latte, having paid with the Starbucks mobile payment app. It’s great.

But it is unique. I can’t think of any other brand I use enough to get me to put a payment app on my phone.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I think this is fantastic for SBUX and their customers! The faster we can get rid of cash, the better.

NFC is only a stepping stone to cell phone payments, anyway.

Larry Negrich
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Retailers should thank Starbucks as this initiative will help make these consumers more comfortable with mobile payments at all retail outlets. And when NFC arrives in the larger marketplace acceptance will be easier for all.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Starbucks has made an outstanding commitment to mobile payment. I’m not sure of “how” the technology works and am interested to see if they have built on industry standards or created something more customized.

Anne Frisbie
Guest
Anne Frisbie
9 years 10 months ago

Three million mobile payments in nine weeks is impressive. It is great to see that Starbucks has developed mobile app solutions for all three of the largest smartphone platforms in the USA: iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I’d love to see more retailers create mobile optimized experiences–with or without mobile payments in them–for all three of these platforms. Plus if I get one more wish, I’d love to see tablet optimized experiences as well.

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