Customers want to pay with wave of their smartphone

January 21, 2011

INDIA-STARBUCKS/– Jason Beahm is a contributor to FindLaw’s “Free Enterprise” blog. FindLaw in is owned by Thomson Reuters. –

The future is now. Why? Because now we can buy coffee at Starbucks and pay with a smartphone.

Sure, Japan has had the technology for years, but finally the service was rolled out this week at 6,800 stores as well as 1,000 Starbucks inside of Target stores. For now it is limited to BlackBerry devices, iPhones or iPod Touches, so it’s hardly a revolution, but it’s a start.

All you have to do is download the Starbucks’ app and hold your phone in front of a scanner when you buy a Frapa-whatever at Starbucks. The money is then withdrawn from your Starbucks account, which you can load with money.

Starbucks had been previously testing pay with smartphone programs in select regions including Seattle, New York and Northern California. This is the first time they have rolled out the program nationwide.

“We’re providing them with the fastest way to pay,” Brady Brewer, vice president for the Starbucks card and brand loyalty, said in a statement, The New York Times reports.

While your business may not yet be able to accept payments in this manner, it is a trend worth keeping an eye on.

If it catches on, making payments via mobile phones seems likely. Based on the increasing number of purchases being made online, it follows that consumers will become comfortable enough that it will be common to pay with a smartphone. In fact, Visa is about to release an iPhone case that will make the iPhone compatible with tap to pay locations. Eventually, your bank account might work in the same manner in which the Starbucks card works now.

It’s all about baby steps.

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(Photo: A cup of Starbucks coffee sits on a table in a cafe in central Hond Hong Kong in this January 16, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Joel Boh)

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