Starbucks recently rolled out their mobile payment option for devices. Basically you can download a free app, add credit, and then display a barcode that will allow you to pay for your purchases using a third-party barcode reader at your point of purchase. This is a great step in the right direction by a major brand that will make a lot of consumers take notice of what mobile payments can mean, not to mention push the consumer goods industry toward further adoption. And Starbucks had a great case to try this out as 2/3rds of their customers are smartphone users. However, having downloaded and used it for a few weeks, there’s still a few issues from a customer experience standpoint where I’m not sold. Below are a few reasons:
- I still have to download and install a specific app – Sure it’s free and easy to install, but I still need to go get it to use it and I should (though I’m sure many have no problem making the rest of the line wait) get it ahead of time and not right as I’m paying.
- I have to have my device handy, charged, and ready – My device is habitually not charged all the way, out of my grasp, or not in hand, mostly because I’m with someone and yapping as I wait in line. I get the thinking here. Starbucks always involves waiting because their products are complicated and time-consuming to prepare, thus the downtime and propensity to pull out your phone. However, I rarely get coffee alone so that appeal isn’t there for me.
- I have to give my payment info to this specific app – I’m not particularly shy or paranoid about this but it’s sort of a pain to enter the info, even if it is just once.
- A gift card is just as functional – No secret to anyone, adding credit to a gift card at the register is easier, and then after that it’s a no thought transaction to pay. No waking up your device, finding the app, etc…
Don’t get me wrong, I like where this is going and Starbucks got a lot of PR out of it. But until a technology like NFC comes along to make this all a little easier I think I’ll probably go back to cash and cards when my credit runs out on the app.