August 8, 2012
Starbucks is notorious for being a leader in mobilizing their business (processing 42M in mobile payment transactions just through their mobile app) so it comes as no surprise when they announced a new partnership with mobile payments darling, Square, late yesterday. Square will now process Starbucks’ U.S. credit and debit card transactions and customers will be able to use Pay with Square at participating locations. Line speed is a top priority at Starbucks, and the partnership will certainly speed up that process, but what does this mean for consumers and the mPayments industry?
Simply, mPayments for all. Its not just about seamless transactions for the consumer (Google Wallet) or virtual goods (Zong); the Starbucks-Square partnership catapults us into the next generation of mPayments. No longer is it just a cool dongle that allows SMBs to accept credit cards right from their phone for a small fee, Square is launching their mobile wallet solution to the masses. They could not have picked a better partner than Starbucks, a company who with their application and acceptance of 2D barcode scanners created one of the best mPayment solutions to date. Starbucks has been successful for one reason that has challenged all others–they leveraged their closed loop “Starbucks Card” system and took it mobile. Sounds simple now, but this was far from mainstream four years ago.
Yes, it is great for Square that Starbucks is not only an investor but also a partner that will take them internationally; however, mPayments has been international since its inception. Will Starbucks and Square do what others before them have failed to do and finally get mass consumer adoption? Will this be a catalyst to consolidating the very fragmented marketplace, getting our industry partners to truly partner for a better solution for the consumer and the market? We will all just have to wait and see.