Mobile is taking Manhattan through the latest expansion of Starbucks Corp.'s payment trial.
The Seattle coffee company announced Monday that its mobile payment system, already being tested at over 1,000 stores nationwide, can now be used at nearly 300 corporate-owned locations in New York City and on Long Island.
As in its other stores that accept mobile payments, Starbucks' New York locations would allow customers to pay from the balance of a Starbucks prepaid card that has been linked to an application on an Apple Inc. iPhone or a Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerry device. A special reader at the point of sale scans a bar code displayed on the phone's screen.
The app can also be used to reload the card, which Starbucks said saves time at the register, where reloads frequently take place for users of the plastic card. The app can show the balance of the linked account and can also be used to access the retailer's rewards system.
Starbucks launched its payment trial in September 2009 in 16 stores on the West Coast, then expanded it to about 1,000 locations within Target Corp. stores in April after Starbucks' mobile software provider, mFoundry Inc. of Larkspur, Calif., tweaked the software to work with Target's scanners.
Starbucks said it has had success bucking industry trends with its mobile payment trial. Whereas many mobile payment companies are focused on putting near-field communication chips in phones, Starbucks has sped up its deployment by using bar codes, which require no changes to phone hardware. And although many today are looking at Google Inc.'s Android to expand mobile applications originally launched on the iPhone, Starbucks launched a system on BlackBerry instead last month, realizing that its system was already favored by office workers with company-issued BlackBerry handsets.
Starbucks said that between iPhone and BlackBerry, its app can reach 71% of its smartphone-using customers.
"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," Brady Brewer, Starbucks' vice president of card and loyalty, said in a press release.