Starbucks the king of the mobile wallet apps in the U.S, accounts for most transactions

Mobile wallet apps are still taking off, but one company has soared to the top of the spend list; Starbucks. Reports suggest that U.S. customers spent $500 million using such apps during 2012, and that 'most' of that was spent in Starbucks using their own app.

The likes of Google Wallet and Square garner much more media attention, but the Starbucks Card within their mobile app has succeeded in ways those have not. Mobile wallet solutions have been slow to gain support from retailers, and indeed spread themselves globally. Here in the UK, for example, Google Wallet doesn't exist, but Starbucks does. Pretty much any main branch of Starbucks will accept payment via the app, and this sort of in-house management of the solution says a lot for its success. On the iPhone the Starbucks Card is also Passbook enabled, keeping it close at hand.

There's no doubt we'll see such methods of payment begin to grow over the next few years, but the Starbucks success does at least show there is a willingness to pay for things this way. I'd love to leave my wallet at home, and just carry my iPhone 5 with Passbook loaded up with all the payment methods I'll need that day. How much do you guys use mobile wallet apps for payments? For more than just coffee? Let us know!

Source: Gigaom

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Starbucks the king of the mobile wallet apps in the U.S, accounts for most transactions


I use my Starbucks app all the time and also use the auto reload feature. In Canada we have vary few wallet app's available to us. What is taking Visa and the over major credit card so long? Put a visa app on my phone and I wouldn't need a wallet anymore!

I go to Starbucks seven days a week when I'm in town and always pay using the Starbucks app via the Passbook app on my iPhone. It saves time and reduces the amount of cash I need to manage.

I also have a Square card on my iPhone but am reluctant to use it since I must post a debit entry to my Visa card bank account each time I use it. On the other hand, I need to reload my Starbucks card only once every few weeks and thus am able to vastly reduce the number of debit entries to my Visa card account.

I use the Starbucks app daily, sometimes multiple times a day. I am eager for the day my Drivers License can be loaded on my phone and I can just be done with my wallet entirely.
I use Square at local merchants, Starbucks to pay for coffee, all of my membership cards are in Passbook or KeyRing, even my auto insurance is in the Geico app. I'm a DL away from being wallet-free.

used the Starbucks app daily even before passport. even now i still use the app over passport because you can do more with it like reload cards, check balances, get free iphone apps and music, check rewards and free drinks accumulated.

"For more than coffee?"

Starbucks simply made their loyalty card program digital. The big thing starbucks has that others don't is they bought the special scanners that can scan off a phone. Most older scanners like the ones they have at grocery stores can't scan a phone because there's a problem with the laser hitting the glass. That's why can flash a Vons card at the self check scanner and it will register but that same old scanner won't scan that same image off your phone with any level of consistency if at all. So even if i wanted to pay with my phone most stores have no ability to scan my phone with there old barcode scanners.

The other issue is there simply aren't that many other places that i frequent and give money to nearly as much as starbucks. Because you've gotta be willing to move 20, 50 $100 out of your bank account and just let it sit on your card. $20 at a time is fine for one starbucks card. But i wouldn't do that for say the three grocery stores i attend, target, costco, gas, etc i'd have hundreds of bucks just sitting around not earning interest either. so Starbucks is also in a unique niche for me because i'm simply not spending money at most places with frequency.