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More paying at Starbucks with mobile phones


By John Cook

Starbucks customers are increasingly paying for coffee and snacks with their mobile phones. The Seattle coffee retailer says it has processed some 26 million mobile transactions since launching the mobile payment service in January.

And the buzz appears to be building. Adam Brotman, senior vice president and general manager of digital ventures at Starbucks, says the company processed 6 million mobile transactions during the nine-week period ended Nov. 30. That compared with 3 million transactions during the first nine weeks of the program earlier this year.

Users of the Starbucks iPhone and Android apps load cash onto their phones and then pay by scanning the device at retail locations. In essence, the mobile apps can replace plastic gift cards.

For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Brotman said customers loaded more than $2.4 billion onto gift cards. Of that amount, more than $110 million was loaded via mobile apps.

“Even less than a year in, we are seeing significant adoption of the mobile apps for doing everyday transactions, not just payment but reload,” said Brotman.

Some customers also have begun to take advantage of a new e-gifting feature in the apps,  which lets them send an electronic gift card to someone else.

Based on the success, Brotman says the company plans to roll out mobile payment to 700 locations in the U.K. in January. The company recently expanded the program in Canada. 

Starbucks also continues to evaluate mobile drink ordering, a frequently requested feature from Starbucks’ customers.

“There are a lot of factors in mobile ordering that are not just about the technology, but also about the operations,” Brotman tells GeekWire. “It is something that our customers have asked us for, so we talk about it every day.”

Top U.S. cities for mobile payments at Starbucks include New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and San Jose.

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