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Starbucks’ new mobile payment app went live in the UK today, giving users the ability to buy their coffee using an onscreen barcode.

The coffee chain’s iPhone app integrates its loyalty card, so users can manage their card balance and top-up direct from their mobiles.

Customers pay for their drink by swiping their barcode at the till.

The iPhone app, which will be followed by an Android app later in the year, also includes a store locator, food menu and a drink builder feature. 

The app has proved to be a success in the US, with 26m purchases made since it was launched in January 2011.

Starbucks also revealed that $110m had been loaded onto loyalty cards via mobile last year, though this is a small portion of the $2.4b overall.

The app is well placed to take advantage of Starbucks' loyal customers – one in five UK customers already pays using a Starbucks Card - and this will surely be popular with busy morning commuters.

It will also be interesting to see how the app develops as NFC technology becomes more prevalent.

Surely the next step for Starbucks is to allow users to pay just by touching their phone on a card reader, rather than going through the process of finding a barcode?

The coffee retailer has also today launched a new rewards programme that offers customers benefits such as a free drink for every 15 purchases.

Further benefits are on offer for super-loyal customers who clock up 50 visits, including free espresso shots and whipped cream.

David Moth

Published 5 January, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1704 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Alexander Lund

Alexander Lund, Digital Marketing Manager at Study Group

I'm a huge fan of Starbucks and have been using the app in the U.S for a quite a while. The only problem is that shops outside the city don't have the scanner and force me to read off the huge 16 digit number. I could see how a credit card/phone integrated reader at all the stores would be valuable.

over 5 years ago

Mark Chapman

Mark Chapman, Director of Client Strategy + Services at White Hat Media

Starbucks seem to be way ahead of other cappuccino chains utilising technology and loyalty. (I'm just drinking a cup of their instant ground coffee.) All pretty smart, if you ask me.

I'm still a fan of the Starbucks booth on East Croydon station - best, strongest 'wake-up coffee' I've ever had (house blend) on frequent journeys to London-based clients.


over 5 years ago


Philip Wattis

Is this a case of using technology for the sake of technology? I'm not sure if this is a passing fad, but either way I feel it is likely to be surpassed by NFC.

over 5 years ago


Jonathan Hirst

I am very loyal Starbucks customer and used the app yesterday. I was previously a payment card holder. I found the app really easy to use, certainly a great gimmick at the moment and will probably have longevity as I always have my phone with me but don't always have a wallet or their card. 5/5 for Starbucks

over 5 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Philip, I think it will probably end up being made obsolete by NFC, but there's still a long way to go until NFC is commonplace in mobile phones so it's worth using this in the interim.

It will also get people used to paying with their phones so when NFC does become commonplace Starbucks customers will already be comfortable paying for their coffee with this sort of technology.

Plus it seems to have worked in the States, so why not over here?

over 5 years ago


Jason Scott

Wow! I wasn't aware of this app, I love starbucks so will definately be purchasing this. I wonder how many companies will catch on to this and re-create their own versions...

over 5 years ago


Merchant Account

Starbucks Mobile Pay is linked to a prepaid card and I, as many others, just don't want to be using such cards. There is no reason anyone who can get a credit card should use a prepaid one, which has no effect on your credit score and gives you no rewards. Moreover, why should I get any payment card, which can only be use at Starbucks? If I did that, I should probably do the same for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and many others? Where would that end? It simply makes no sense to me.

about 5 years ago

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