Google Wallet, look out – Starbucks processed 42 million mobile payments in 15 months

by: AdrianApril 10, 2012

While Google Wallet is still struggling with security and privacy issues and far from reaching its potential, Starbucks seems to have got the grasp of mobile payments before anybody else. The Seattle-based coffee shop chain disclosed some interesting figures to VentureBeat, concerning its mobile payment program, and, I must say, the numbers are impressive.

More than 42 million mobile payments have been processed at Starbucks locations in the US, Canada, and the UK, over the past 15 months. That’s an average of almost 3 million payments every month, but, considering the fact that in December 2011 the total figure was 26 million mobile payments, we get the picture of a service that is growing by the day.

For those of you who haven’t yet paid for a freshly ground cup of Starbucks coffee using a mobile phone, here’s the skinny. After downloading the Starbucks for Android app found at this link (free of charge, of course), you need to load money onto a digital Starbucks Card, and then present a 2D barcode to pay at the register. The code is scanned by your barista, and, boom, your check is taken care of in a matter of seconds! The mobile payment service is available on drive-thru windows as well.

It seems that the guys at Starbucks are poised to take things to the next level with their mobile payments program. “You’re going to see us as a company that will push the envelope around mobile pay. We want to innovate in that area before others catch up.” Starbucks’ chief digital officer, Adam Brotman, told VentureBeat, leaving me wonder about the innovations the coffee company might be working towards.

So, how about it, coffee lovers? (we have a nice list of best apps for coffee lovers, by the way) Have you used Starbucks’ innovative mobile payment service until now? And if so, is it actually as easy to use and convenient as it sounds? Also, do you think that there’s any more room for innovation in this area? Hit us back with a comment and please let us know!

  • eClipse

    I’m a big fan of Starbucks, and use My Coffee Card, but this situation is hardly comparable to Google Wallet.

    First, the app is just an extension of their affinity and gift cards, and not all stores accept the scanned bar code. SB also has the ability to force their franchisees to install the infrastructure they define, in the manner they define.

    Further, the risk for SB is the total on the card at any given time – few people I know have more than $50 on an SB card.

    Google Wallet has to deal with OEM’s and NFC, the former being a PITA and the latter being new to the universe. Then there’s the little issue of what account it’s tied to, and needing to conform to he myriad banking and other rules associated with regular credit card transactions.

    Simply put, Google wallet is a cardless credit card, SB is a cardless gift card.

  • eClipse

    I’d also like to know what “push the envelope” means.

    I can already buy anything in an SB store with my Gold Card or the bar code, but I’d hardly be inclined to use it to shop anywhere else.

  • carterson2

    I think there is a starbuck free-2d code in the wall of the new Android DOOM-GLES app.

  • Graham Laight

    This payment mechanism could be outsourced to other merchants – there is a danger that Google have been out-thought here. It would also be usable on non-Android smartphones (Windows, iOS and Blackberry). However, I would have thought that for the user, NFC would be more convenient?

  • Starbucks Mobile Pay is linked to a prepaid card and I, as many others, just don’t want to be using such cards. There is no reason anyone who can get a credit card should use a prepaid one, which has no effect on your credit score and gives you no rewards. Moreover, why should I get any payment card, which can only be use at Starbucks? If I did that, I should probably do the same for Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and many others? Where would that end? It simply makes no sense to me.

  • Elizabeth Ricci

    Thanks for sharing your article about the Google Wallet. Do you think Apple will create any competition? We are blogging about this topic now.

  • James

    My Starbucks app on GS3 seems to to be able to create these digital cards.

  • James

    That should have been : “seems not to be able to create digital cards”. I’ve been trying all evening and still haven’t found any way to do it.