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10/25/2010
09:40 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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New Yorkers Can Phone In Starbucks Latte Payments

Starbucks has expanded a mobile payment trial to include 300 stores in New York City and Long Island, allowing iPhone and BlackBerry users to pay for coffee from their smartphones.

Earlier this year, Starbucks launched a trial program allowing customers at 16 Seattle and North Carolina stores, along with over 1,000 Starbucks-within-a-Target locations, to make in-store purchases from their BlackBerries.

Today, Starbucks has expanded the trial to include nearly 300 company-operated stores in New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. To experience mobile payment at participating New York City-area Starbucks, customers just need to download the free Starbucks Card Mobile App on their supported BlackBerry smartphone, iPhone or iPod touch.

The application works in tandem with a Starbucks account and coffee-purchasing Starbucks card (only the card is required for mobile payments). The idea behind the application is to smooth out the pain of managing a Starbucks account online by making it accessible from smartphones.

According to Starbucks, the application has five key features. It can be used to: Check Starbucks Card balance; Reload Starbucks Card account with any major credit card; Pay for Starbucks purchases using the mobile payment feature; Find nearby Starbucks stores with a store locator feature; and Check My Starbucks Rewards status.

The most interesting to me is the ability to pay for coffee at various stores. (Too bad you can't place and order wirelessly ahead of time so your Latte-Whip-tee-doo is ready when you arrive.) Starbucks didn't explain exactly how the process will work at the register. What I'm sure most New Yorkers want to know is, will the mobile payments system slow down the coffee queues or speed them up during the morning rush?

"With the expansion of mobile payment to New York City, we expect to see more and 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," said Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Loyalty, in a prepared statement. "Expanding our mobile footprint gives our customers a new way to connect with Starbucks on the go and transforms the way customers experience their Starbucks Card through the mobile app."

According to Starbucks, registered Starbucks card owners can earn stars based on purchases (at participating stores) that will eventually lead to rewards. Starbucks says that nearly 20% of all transactions at its stores are made with the Starbucks card.

The Starbucks Card Mobile Application is a free download for users of the BlackBerry 8800, 8820; Bold 9000, 9650, 9700; Curve 8300, 8310, 8320, 8330, 8350i, 8520, 8530, 8900; Storm 9530; Storm2 9550; and Tour 9630.

The Starbucks Card Mobile Application for the iPhone and iPod Touch is available from the iPhone App Store.

Starbucks didn't immediately provide a list of the 300 participating stores (a list is available on the Starbucks' web site), nor did it mention when the trial might expand to other markets.

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