The Future is Here

Here it comes…the tidal wave of mobile method of payment is gathering steam and approaching the shores of the present.  Starbucks has announced that they are rolling out a mobile application that allows you to “pay for your Latte with [your] cellphones”.

On Wednesday, Starbucks plans to announce that customers of the 6,800 stores the company operates in the United States and the 1,000 that are in Target stores will be able to pay for their lattes with their cellphones instead of pulling out cash or a credit card.

But the introduction of mobile payments in Starbucks stores may be the most mainstream example yet.

Owners of BlackBerrys, iPhones or iPod Touches can use them to pay by downloading the free Starbucks Card app and holding their phones in front of a scanner at Starbucks cash registers. The money is subtracted from their Starbucks account, which they can load with credit cards or, on iPhones, with PayPal funds.

We have all seen mobile payment systems en route for some time but it has never been launched on such broad scale.  I do have to hand it to Starbucks, the system they made is quite savvy in that to be able to use the function you must interact with the brand no less than 4 times.

To participate, you must download the Starbucks Mobile Pay Application (brand contact 1).  Then, you must buy a Starbucks card (brand contact 2), and input the number into your application just as you would with iTunes and an iTunes gift card (brand contact 3).  Then, to pay with your phone for your beverage, you pull up the application on your phone and show it to the clerk who scans it (brand contact 4), the total of which is deducted from your application account.

Starbucks knows that 33% of their customers currently have smart phones and that number is bound to increase.  This move is brilliant as it does not require sophisticated, faulty technology and makes them first to market with a mobile payment system that yields brand loyalty and continued patronage.

Howard Schultz is a smart man.

Give us your feedback.  Are you going to start buying Starbucks with your phone?  What else would you like to buy with your mobile devices?