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iOS6 Passbook

Add Starbucks to the list of big-name companies that have updated their mobile applications to work with Passbook, Apple’s wallet-like application for storing mobile coupons, gift cards, electronic tickets, and now making mobile payments by proxy.

The coffee conglomerate officially launched Passbook integration today at a company leadership conference in Houston. The update allows Starbucks customers with iPhones and iPods to store their digital cards in Passbook for quick and easy mobile payments.

Starbucks mobile pay, a prominent feature of the company’s iPhone and Android applications, was launched in January 2011. Customers carry a digital equivalent of their Starbucks cards on their mobile phones and scan a barcode to pay-by-phone at the register. Starbucks has processed more than 70 million mobile payment transactions to date.

The Starbucks iPhone application now prompts you to “add to Passbook” on launch. Application users can also optionally identify their favorite Starbucks locations so that as they walk into those stores, the Passbook icon will appear on their lock screen for instant access to their digital Starbucks card.

Apple’s Passbook aims to put iOS device owners’ important transactional information at their fingertips for automatic access. The wallet-like application doesn’t directly support mobile payments but instead is ideal for storing mobile tickets and coupons from brands and retailers. Passbook can, as demonstrated by the Starbucks integration, store other payment apps and help iPhone owners facilitate mobile transactions faster.

Passbook requires the support of third-party developers. A small selection of companies and brands, including American Express, Target, Ticketmaster, and Lufthansa, already support Passbook. Once an application updates to support Passbook, the application user can choose to then store select items, such as a Starbucks card, in their Passbook.

In other mobile payment news, Starbucks also announced Thursday that it would start accepting Square Wallet payments at 7,000 U.S. company-operated stores in early November. Square makes a much lesser-known wallet application for mobile payments at select merchants.

Starbucks and payment startup Square first teamed up in early August in an oddly structured deal that saw the coffee company invest $25 million in the New York up-start. In return, Square started processing all of Starbucks U.S. credit credit transactions at discounted rates.

The Square Wallet application is not integrated with Starbucks’ mobile applications, or a part of Apple’s Passbook. Coffee buyers can, however, opt to pay with either the Starbucks’ mobile application or the Square Wallet application come early November. By summer 2013, customers can use either app for digital tipping as well, Starbucks said.


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