The big problems facing the concept of mobile payments are the lack of participating stores and the lack of public awareness. What the system needs is a big name to get involved. How about Starbucks? Yeah, that should do it.
Only this isn’t mobile payments as you know it; this is something a bit more special.
Starbucks, the coffee chain with more branches than there are stars in the Milky Way, has just invested $25 million (£16 million) into mobile payment app Square, in order to bring the start-up into its fold.
The result is something that sounds properly amazing. In the initial rollout this Autumn, the deal will mean that customers in the US will be able to pay for items in every US Starbucks using their phone by calling up bespoke onscreen barcodes. So far, nothing too exciting.
But bear with us: later on, GPS is going to get roped in, which could really revolutionise the world of mobile and contactless payments. When Starbucks and Square include the app’s GPS abilities, the barista’s checkouts will start showing a list of usernames and profile pictures of any Square user in the store (or immediately nearby).
With that info, you’ll be able to wander up to the till, order your vente frappa-mocha-latte (with skimmed milk, natch) and pay by just telling the staff your Square user name. Starbucks staff just select you from the list, and your account’s instantly billed.
You won’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket. And that’s amazing. The system’s rolling out in the US initially, but we’re excited to see it come to the UK.