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The most popular US mobile payment app might surprise you

Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay lag behind an unlikely leader in total U.S. users.

Published onMay 23, 2018

  • Research firm eMarketer says Starbucks is leading the mobile payments app pack in U.S. users.
  • It was said to have around 1 million more users than second place Apple Pay at the end of 2017 and is tipped to stay ahead into 2022.
  • Though restricted to purchases in Starbucks, the app has a couple of key competencies that may have helped it gain a lead.

The Starbucks app is the most popular mobile payments app in the U.S., according to data from research firm eMarketer (paywall) (via Recode).

Starbucks was said to have 20.7 million users in 2017 compared to Apple Pay’s 19.7 million, and it’s predicted to maintain its lead through 2022. Google Pay, which emerged from Android Pay, was tipped to have 9.7 Million users in 2017, while Samsung Pay had 8.4 million users during the same period.

The Starbucks app may strike some as an unlikely leader in the mobile payments sphere, because, unlike the aforementioned competition, it can only be used in Starbucks. That should be a huge crutch for a mobile payments app, so how has Starbucks managed to take the lead?

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To begin with, Starbucks has a loyalty system that rewards users for spending there, and it integrates with the mobile app. That means not only does Starbucks offer the convenience of cashless payments, it has a built-in incentive (there are said to be more people using the app than have signed up for the rewards program separately). 

Further, Starbucks plays nice with both Android and iOS devices, while the others are restricted to one or the other. 

Starbucks also has another significant advantage that no other mobile payment app has — consumers know for certain that it works. Other mobile payment apps may put users off simply because they’re afraid to ask if it can be used in a particular store — they aren’t all based on the same technology. The Starbucks app is designed by and for Starbucks.

The Starbucks app is basically what other mobile payments apps should aspire to be: hassle-free, multi-platform, and with rewards; download it on your device via the button below.

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