Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 8:45 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Starbucks mobile payment debuts nationwide today

By Hayley Tsukayama


Starting today, Starbucks customers don't have to fumble for their wallets to get their coffee. Now, you can just scan your phone.

Talk about being wired.

The coffee behemoth launched its mobile payment service today, and Blackberry and iPhone or iPod Touch users can download an app that lets them pay through a barcode sent straight to their devices.

According to the press release from Starbucks, the service launched today in 6,800 stores and more than 1,000 Starbucks in U.S. Target locations, though early morning calls to D.C.-area Starbucks could not confirm that the mobile payment system is live in D.C. The service is not yet available at the Target store in Columbia Heights.

The service is based on Starbucks' existing card service and mobile app, which lets customers manage their card balance, load their card with a major credit card (or PayPal account, for iPhone users), and locate the nearest store.

This is the second big launch for Starbucks this week. It announced a new size on Monday, the Trenta, a whopping 31-ounce cup of coffee.

Let us know if you paid for your morning coffee with your phone, or if you saw the machines at your local store in the comments.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 19, 2011; 8:45 AM ET
Categories:  Apple, Digital culture, Gadgets, Mac, Mobile  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Will the white iPhone hit stores Feb. 27?
Next: Report: PSP2 will be unveiled next week, gaming phone debuts next month


Mobile payment via the iOS app has been around for quite some time; today's announcement was just about the expansion of the program...

Posted by: jcburka | January 19, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't foresee a problem with this easy payment method, as long as there's a plan in place to monitor the frequency and quantity of coffee that's being purchased, all we need is another enabler for addicts to keep their jones (or cup o'joe) habit growing.

Posted by: jerrywww | January 19, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

iPhone scan worked in Duluth, MN this am. One less piece of plastic to carry!

Posted by: cageyjay | January 19, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Another step forward in the surveillance society as lemmings voluntarily allow themselves to be tracked and their every purchase recorded.

Posted by: sage5 | January 19, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@ sage5

This mobile device payment method isn't tracking your every move any more than using your physical your credit card would. Starbucks can get the same amount of information off of you when you swipe your card. So if you're really that concerned about a "surveillance society" maybe you should try paying cash from now on.

Posted by: spkdc | January 19, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Again, we are giving up our privacy rights, allbeit with knowledge and having been forewarned - yet most people don't stop to think of that, or the 'bigger picture'. Sage5 is absolutley SPOT ON in their post . . . "Another step forward in the surveillance society" all for the price of making things a little easier. WE SHOULD REALLY WAKE UP AS A SOCIETY AND PAY CLOSER ATTENTION TO THE EROSION OF OUR CIVIL RIGHTS (at our own hands).

Posted by: Robert1727 | January 19, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I used it at the Starbucks on N. Lynn in Rosslyn, VA, and the only glitch was that I had a multiple drink transaction, and wanted to use a coupon for one of the drinks. I had to do that via a separate transaction, because the barcode scan has to be for the entire transaction. Apparently you can't combine it with other "payment types."

Posted by: mo7290 | January 19, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that the ability to purchase a cup of coffee by waiving my mobile phone is the "End Of Privacy As We Know It," specifically because (a) I know Starbucks knows I have bought a coffee, (b) I don't care that Starbucks knows I have bought a coffee, and (c) I don't believe I am important enough for any covert group to want to track my coffee-buying habits. The erosion of liberty comes via things over which we have NO control, such as cameras that track my behavior at stop lights where I cannot choose to be invisible.

My biggest whinge at the moment is why no Android-based option! I suppose the stereotype of hipster iPhone owners sipping their Starbies doesn't extend to the less trendy Droid dudes :)

Posted by: WordGuy | January 19, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

spkdc - you are right, paying cash would be the way to avoid having your every purchase tracked. I can recall a time when it was legal to carry cash, and most merchants accepted it. But that was, of course, before the Currency Reform Act of 2025 which abolished all forms of cash in order to deter financial transactions by terrorists, drug dealers, and sex workers, to prevent underage persons from buying alcohol . . .

Posted by: sage5 | January 19, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

A THIRTY-ONE OUNCE cup of Starbucks coffee? No wonder they offer phone scanning - who carries enough cash around with them to pay for a Starbuck product THAT size???

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | January 20, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I really don't understand Robert 1727's post that this is an "erosion of our civil rights (even at our own hands". Why should I be chastened because I voluntarily take advantage of a perfectly legal offer? If you catch this Robert and care to answer me I'd appreciate it. I'll check this article later to see if you do. Thanks.

Posted by: leahcima1 | January 20, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

These technological changes are going to save companies money by doing away with labor, ie the cashier. More jobs lost for more corporate profits.

Posted by: kookmeyer111 | January 20, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

What if the FBI knows I bought coffee? What if my job finds out? My friends? My god, the horror! Oh, wait, what if they find out I went for the 31 ouncer? I'll be fired, or worse, sentenced to the stocks and have tomatoes thrown at my face! I'm a witch, burn me! Arrrrrrrrggggh.

Posted by: soloman5000 | January 20, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Just don't buy cigarettes with your phone.

Posted by: Beacon2 | January 20, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

The typical Starbucks customer clearly doesn't care how much he or she is paying for daily indulgences. Carrying, and paying in, cash would be too much of a reminder how absurdly overpriced that daily cup of fancy coffee is. Every additional payment method which enables the consumer to ignore the fact that he is spending money imprudently will be blithely welcomed.

(Sorry if I'm offending anyone here. Just stating my opinion.)

Posted by: nan_lynn | January 20, 2011 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company