Starbucks recently expanded its iPhone payment system to New York locations, after a pilot at some Seattle, Silicon Valley locations, and its coffee shops within Target Stores.
This lets you use the Starbucks Card iPhone app and your Starbucks card to pay for coffee. It’s pretty simple: You register your Starbucks Card, access it via your iPhone app, and tap a button in the app to display a barcode. The cashier scans the barcode instead of swiping your physical card, and your coffee is deducted from your card.
Bonus: It’s novel, so the cashiers get excited when they get to handle your phone. At least the two times we’ve done it so far.
Some may say that this is the future of commerce. And yes, people have been using their phones to pay for stuff in Japan for many years.
But the mobile payments industry is still very messy and immature. Think about the fact that the system that Starbucks uses requires a direct payment relationship with the company, manually configuring an app, etc. There’s no way that will scale across all the companies you do business with.
So someone is going to have to aggregate the mobile payments. And good luck getting the banks, credit card companies, phone companies, handset companies, other payment players, and retailers to agree on that one.
Plus, two other problems, which have discouraged us from using this feature: 1) There’s no way Starbucks is going to replace our phone if the cashier accidentally drops and shatters it. Perhaps a self-scanning system is a better idea? 2) It still takes longer to type in our Starbucks password every time we launch the app than it takes to pull our Starbucks card out of our wallet. (And, be realistic, it’s not like we’ll be able to stop carrying our wallet around for many years.) So while this is a cool idea, it’s not fully baked.
Anyway, here’s what it looks like. (Note: This video was shot and edited entirely on a Nicholas Carlson’s iPhone, too.)
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