Starbucks Rolls Out Nationwide Pay-by-Phone Service

Starbucks is rolling out a new pay-by-phone service at coffee counters across the country, delighting caffeine addicts who can now pay for their Trenta iced coffee with their BlackBerry or iPhone.

The pay-by-phone service has been in testing at Starbucks locations in Seattle and New York for some time and the company is rolling out the option to pay with your smart phone to 6,800 Starbucks stores, including an additional 1,000 stores located inside Target stores.

Unlike many pay-by-phone programs that require a special phone or a special case, the Starbucks solution is an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and select BlackBerry devices. The app allows users to manage their Starbucks cards and with the push of a button, choose to pay with a card that is tied to their account.

The Starbucks Card Mobile App will display a barcode that the barista can scan to deducting the cost of your purchase. The app will not allow you to connect to a credit card for payment, so you will need to keep funds on your card, funds can be added with a credit card or by PayPal.

Starbucks isn't the first company to bring this type of functionality to your phone with an app. Target launched a gift card app in early 2010 that allows users to carry their gift cards on their phones and use the barcode to pay for in-store purchases.

While Apple and Google are pushing to include Near Field Communication (NFC) support in future versions of the iPhone and Android devices, which would make it easier to pay by phone in a method similar to how some credit cards currently work, the use of apps and software solutions means that users can enjoy the convenience of paying by phone without the need to buy a brand new device.

Hopefully, we'll see more retailers add this functionality to their apps. Who knows, it could cut down on gift card spoilage that comes from always leaving your Best Buy gift card at home.
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