Starbucks finally rolls out mobile app in its fastest-growing market

Starbucks has finally rolled out its mobile app in India.

Now customers can pay for in-store purchases and earn "Stars" through their My Starbucks Rewards account (the loyalty program), redeem offers, and use the "Store Locator" feature.

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With this, the Seattle-headquartered company becomes the first major retailer to enable mobile payments in India — reportedly Starbucks' fastest-growing market globally.

The app comes with the "Scan to Pay" and "Shake to Pay" features that allow customers to scan the bar code linked to a registered Starbucks Card or simply shake their mobile device to activate the pay screen.

Money can be loaded into the Starbucks Card from bank accounts only. Mobile wallet top-ups are disallowed for now. "We're loading only through banks. You think about the shift to a digital wallet... this [Starbucks app] is a digital wallet," Sumitro Ghosh, CEO, Tata Starbucks, tells Mashable.

(Starbucks operates in India via a joint venture with Tata Global Beverages.)

Globally, the Starbucks Rewards program has 13 million active members, a 16 percent increase from last year, Forbesreported. In India, however, the loyalty program which debuted in 2014 has only about 250,000 members, according to India Retailing.

The mobile app is a clear push to the program and Starbucks "anticipates conversion to be high."

"The reality is we want our customers to earn the rewards and benefits of the program. And we expect an exponential growth purely because of the convenience it offers," Ghosh tells Mashable.

But given India's issues with bandwidth, a slow-loading app (which it is at present) might be a turn-off for customers if they have already walked into the store and are keen to make a quick payment.

"All our stores have WiFi. And once the app loads your balance, there's cache data, so you can still pay through it even if there's no connectivity," says Ghosh.

The company, however, isn't ruling out a lighter version (low-data) of the app in future.

India, meanwhile, "is growing faster on a percentage basis than any other region in the world. We saw firsthand the excitement consumers have for the Starbucks brand," then-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had said on a conference call in January 2016.

And in return, the coffee retailer announced in June 2016 that it would be selling single-origin premium Indian coffee at its Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle in a bid to expose U.S. customers to beans grown in the Coorg region of southern India.

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