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Starbucks expands mobile payment trial to New York, Long Island

October 26, 2010

BlackBerry and iPhone users can scan mobile bar codes at the point of sale using the app

BlackBerry and iPhone users can scan mobile bar codes at the point of sale using the app

Starbucks Coffee Co. has expanded its Starbucks Card Mobile payment test to nearly 300 company-operated stores in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

This builds on Starbucks mobile payment test, which started in fall 2009 in conjunction with the launch of the Starbucks Card Mobile application for select BlackBerry smartphones and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. Starbucks is currently letting customers in and around New York pay for Starbucks beverages with their mobile phone.

“Our mobile payment trial to date has exceeded our expectations and the NYC and Long Island expansion builds on this success,” said Chuck Davidson, category manager for innovation on the Starbucks Card team at Starbucks, Seattle.

“New York City provides a concentrated group of stores in an important market for us and our customers there are tech-savvy and on-the-go, so it was an ideal place to take mobile payment next,” he said. “Mobile payment is the fastest way to pay and our customers have asked us to increase the number of locations with mobile payment.

“Our goal is expanding our mobile footprint to give more customers access to mobile payment.”

Founded in 1971, Starbucks is a global roaster and retailer of specialty arabica coffee.

The coffee giant tapped mFoundry to power the application and mobile payment trial.

Starbucks going all in on mobile payments
In response to customer feedback, the Starbucks Card Mobile application was first developed for select BlackBerry smartphones and the iPhone, as these devices are used by more than 71 percent of Starbucks smartphone-carrying customers.

To experience mobile payment at participating New York-area Starbucks, customers need to download the free Starbucks Card Mobile application on their supported BlackBerry smartphone, iPhone or iPod touch.

In addition to the mobile payment feature, the application lets customers manage their card account, reload their card balance directly from their smartphone with a major credit card, check their My Starbucks Rewards status and find nearby Starbucks stores.

With the Starbucks Card Mobile application, customers will have a bar code on their screen that they will hold in front of a 2D scanner on the counter to pay for their purchase.

The expansion of mobile payment into New York builds on the successful test program currently in 16 stores in Seattle and Northern California and at more than 1,000 Starbucks in U.S. Target stores.

Starbucks claims that the overall program is experiencing impressive growth and performance, and currently almost one in five of all in-store transactions are paid for with a Starbucks Card, an activity made even more convenient with the introduction of Starbucks Card Mobile application.

Customers are on track to load more than $1 billion on Starbucks Cards this year, and at the end of the third quarter, sales of cards were up 17 percent over last year and the reload on existing cards was up more than 59 percent compared to last year.

With the expansion of mobile payment to New York, Starbucks expects to see more customers trading their plastic Starbucks Cards for the digital version on their mobile phone.

In addition to the payment capability, customers can also keep track of their My Starbucks Rewards status and reload their card while they are on the way to Starbucks or in line.

To get the word out about the Starbucks Card Mobile application, the company uses its digital channels, including and My Starbucks Idea, as well as social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

IPhone and iPod touch users can download the application from the App Store.

BlackBerry smartphone users can text the keyword GO to the short code 70845 or visit from their device.

It is available for a variety of BlackBerry smartphones, including BlackBerry 8800 series, BlackBerry Bold series, BlackBerry Curve series, BlackBerry Storm, BlackBerry Storm2 and BlackBerry Tour.

“We do not share specific metrics, but I can share that mobile payment is faster than cash, credit card or traditional plastic Starbucks Cards,” Mr. Davidson said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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