Starbucks' Mobile Payment Trial Working, Expanding To East Coast

Starbucks, which is one of the very few national retailers running any kind of a mobile payment trial, has sharply expanded its initial West Coast run, announcing this week a planned move into its almost 300 stores in New York City and parts of Long Island. (Target, another M-Commerce-interested retailer, has already been accepting the mobile payments at the Starbucks in their stores.)

One of the reasons for the urban move is a discovery from the 16-store test in Seattle and Northern California that "dense office building environments" worked out much better than "more neighborhoody environments," said Chuck Davidson, the category manager for innovation on the Starbucks Card team. He theorized that word of mouth in those office parks was the cause (and the lunch crowd, as opposed to the suburban tendency to solely do morning coffee). And even though the barcode scans are taken directly from the mobile device screens, Davidson said testers found few problems with glare that other chains have experienced. He credited high-end 2D imagers and asking that customers turn their phones' brightness to full. He added that the chain has yet to experience any fraud in the trial. True, but the Big Apple may test how long that will be the case.