Cash-Free caffeine from Starbucks
Starbucks’s year-and-a-half-old mobile payment program may be the largest of any retailer in North America. Even before its recent $25 million investment in San Francisco mobile payments startup Square, the company had been processing a million mobile-phone transactions per week. Starting in the fall, coffee lovers will be able to use smartphones to pay via an account linked directly to their credit cards. Eventually, Starbucks’s app users may be able to send friends invitations, complete with a map, to meet at a particular coffee shop, or order and pay for their favorite drinks while en route to a store.
The mobile payment options also promise a profit boost for Starbucks. By letting its customers make purchases with their smartphones, Starbucks manages to pay fewer fees-which sometimes top 2 percent-on credit-card transactions. The apps can also help sales by making store lines move 10 percent to 20 percent faster during peak hours.