Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starbucks Apps and Payment Come to The iPhone - Legitimacy For Phone Wallets

Say what you will about Starbucks, a vast majority of mobile warriors like it and I'm one of them.  And I'm loving them even more with their two new apps for the iPhone.  But it is more than just Starbuck apps that I'm excited about.  It is the legitimacy of mobile payment they represent for us.

More than a year ago, Onxo talked about mobile payment in other countries like the phone wallet in Japan.  It's often perceived that the Japanese are at the forefront of mobile technology.  And rightfully so.  But in the US, there is still a lot of resistance to the kind of change that would be required for wholesale adoption of something such as mobile payment.

But like Apple or not.  Like Steve Jobs or not, you have to admit that Apple's command of a loyal throng of followers allows it to move markets.  Millions will download the Starbucks app and may even opt to use the virtual Starbucks card to pay for their drinks from then on.

I'll certainly try it.  Right now, the payment app is being tested in selection locations in Northern California.  Payment would take place wireless through Bluetooth so this can be quickly expanded to other mobile platforms like Android and Windows Mobile.  I'm sure Starbucks started with the iPhone because of its Apple users more willing to adopt new tech uses than others.  Plus, Starbucks has had a long amicable relationship with Apple for years.

Starbucks will expand their pilot program for wireless payment in the coming months but in the meantime, iPhone and iPod Touch users who use the app to load up their Starbucks card will receive an additional $5 of credit.  

What's not to like?  Go download it now!  More about Starbucks iPhone apps at MacRumors.  There is another app called myStarbucks that allows you to find store locations and see the menu.

I'm sure more retailers and food places will offer their own apps.  Chipotle already offers an app for ordering. Even more offer some sort of apps that act as a virtual storefront for their products.  Amazon has apps for the iPhone and Android devices to order products directly.  And don't forget Apple's 100 million iTunes accounts.  I'm sure Apple will be looking to find a way to capitalize on that.

I do worry, however, that things might get messy quickly if every company and store goes off to do their own payment system.  Issues will quickly arise.  Not the least, security.  If anyone should be pursuing the matter of using mobile devices and phones as a mean to make payments, it ought to be the banks and credit card companies.  

The market for this is huge.  Perhaps, we'll see folks like Apple, Google, and eBay also release guidelines for this as well.  Should Starbucks' effort take off, others like supermarkets should look into this with their store cards and for payments.  I'm always losing my Ralphs and Albertsons cards.

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