Starbuck’s mobile app gets Apple Pay, but it will be a long time before the caffeine pusher adds support for Apple’s mobile payment app in store.
The Starbucks app operates as a pre-paid digital gift card. Users have to load the card as funds dwindle. Typically, this means having to go into the app, select a payment method, and upload funds. With the Apple Pay integration, users can now (or soon) link their Apple Pay card and use Touch ID to authorize transactions in the Starbucks app.
The new integration is notable for Apple because Starbucks is currently the most successful mobile payment app on the market. The Starbucks app has 12 million users, who make around 6 million transactions a week using the app — if not more.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay is only accepted in 50 stores and chains nationwide. While the app has shown promise (Whole Foods reported that Apple Pay accounted for 1 percent of transactions in November), it’s far from achieving mass adoption. As it stands, the best use case for Apple Pay is in-app purchases, which is what makes its adoption by the Starbucks app significant. If Apple can act as the wallet to Starbuck’s gift card, it stands to see some significant use. And making it easier to manage their Starbucks card could be enough of a motivation for people to set up their Apple Pay account. Once the account is set up, there’s more likelihood people will use Apple Pay for other mobile payments, and possibly in-store purchases as well.
Those of you that were holding out for Starbucks to start accepting Apple Pay directly in stores will have to wait — and I wouldn’t hold your breath. The Starbucks app allows the company to pitch customers on deals and rewards, and keeps consumers coming back to Starbucks. Right now the company controls every aspect of its checkout experience, and it would be stupid for it to hand that process over to Apple, which is why it probably won’t.
Sorry, Starbucks customers, but you’re stuck with that QR code.