Starbucks today announced a redesigned Android app that will enable users in Canada and the UK to pay for drinks straight from their phones by showing cashiers an onscreen barcode. The feature has thus far only existed in the US for Android users, while iPhone users have been able to make wireless purchases in Canada and the UK since January. Back in April, Starbucks claimed 42 million transactions from mobile devices in its US stores. Today, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said, that number is closer to 55 million.
Starbucks and companies like Belly seem to prove that you don't need NFC to succeed in the mobile payments space — or at least in the mobile loyalty program space. While you'll need to charge up your app using a credit card (or PayPal, for iPhone and now Android users), most consumers don't seem to mind since they already use the app to accrue reward points. "People are waiting in line and generally on their phones anyways," Brotman said, and the app works at 14,000 Starbucks locations. The revamped Android app lacks a few of the features in its iPhone counterpart (like Drink Builder), but it does include one exclusive feature impossible to implement on iOS: a widget that displays your account balance with one-tap access to your card barcode. The Android app also includes PIN code protection, account management, and a store locator that put it on par with the iPhone version.
While Starbucks' app has just been updated for Android, we're left to wonder what the next step is for its iPhone app. Apple demoed a Starbucks card inside its new Passbook app at WWDC, but Brotman said that it was just a demonstration. "We're excited about the functionality and capabilities of Passbook," he said, neither confirming nor denying plans to work with Apple on a Passbook supplement to its mobile app. Additionally, he noted that many customers are begging for the ability to customize and order drinks straight from their phones. "That's something we're highly aware of," he said. "There are some operational complexities with that, but we want to see it ourselves."