Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Starbucks Mobile Card ... Perhaps What's Next in Payments

...or an example of something that meets the criteria...
People are always asking me, what is the next big thing in payments?
It is easy to identify the unlikely candidates, the pattern is common.

But, when something resonates immediately, you gotta give it an atta boy!

I am a recent iPhone convert and one of the apps I downloaded was the Starbuck's Mobile Card. I already was carrying a Starbuck's pre-paid card and had an existing account at and had registered the card. I often exchange my Wells Fargo Visa card points for those cards.

Yesterday, I was in the heart of Silicon Valley and stopped for a quick meeting at the Starbuck's on DeAnza (near Apple HQ). I noticed the POP signage for the new payment trial and decided to try it. The clerk was well versed and enthusiastic about me using it. With iPhone already in hand (where it is most of the time), I clicked on the app. Since it was my first useage there was one extra step which the clerk took care of with one touch to the screen. Then the bar code showed up on the phone screen and by simply putting it in front of the reader on the counter, the transaction was done!


jsa said...

Wow - thanks for reporting this Steve - i had no idea SBUX had started this trial here in the valley.

What are your thoughts about if this method of payment will remain app-specific? By that i mean, do you think your sbux card could be displayed from within the facebook app on your iphone, or as an image from an email? I'm curious to know!

-john (at) groupcard (dot) com

jsa said...

oh - btw - i agree 100% about peets!

SKlebe said...

hi, glad I could make you aware of this new payment option. I doubt Starbucks will get caught up in the frenzy to become yet another general alternative payment option. So, yes I think it will stay "app" specific.

Anonymous said...

Steve - Interesting follow-up to your article shows how the Starbucks Mobile App is expanding:

SKlebe said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for pointing out this story. I would agree with the argument up to a point because Utility is a key word for me. However, this is not a 3" thick wallet of proprietary prepaid cards, it is just an icon on my iPhone. There are a very few select retailers/categories where you can get away with remaining proprietary and Starbucks is one that can. How many of us faithfully carried a Safeway Check Cashing Card around in our wallets? For those who prefer, Starbuck's is "reasonably" happy to take your generic credit/debit card too albeit they still do not post the Visa/MC/Disc/Amex logos on their doors (or at least they never used to). Again, the key is applauding their execution. I have experienced plenty of poor launches/executions and they have set a new standard. My only complaint is they are not rolling out more broadly as well. I would love to be able to put the physical card away in a drawer and add it to my collection. Albeit, I have to make sure it does not rub against my Revolution Money Card for fear that it will cry.