You can find out if you live near one of the 1,002 hybrid stores via Starbucks’s locator (check off “Mobile Payment” under Search Filters). The Starbucks Card Mobile app allows you to register and add an initial balance for a card, check its balance, reload it when you’re out of money, and—if you’re visiting one of the trial stores—pay for your drinks.
Tap on the “Touch to Pay” button, and your Starbucks Card barcode will pop up on your iPhone/iPod Touch for the baristas to scan. Payments made with your virtual Starbucks card give you the same rewards as paying with a physical card, so you can rack up all kinds of fun bonuses like free syrup, coffee refills, and even free AT&T WiFi.
Truthfully, I’m not much of a coffee girl—but when I worked for Apple retail, I was a Starbucks junkie. The store was just down the hall, and it became second nature for most of us to swing by on a break for a treat and something heavily caffeinated. Most of us had Starbucks cards—they’re essentially refillable gift cards—because they were quick, slim, and easy to carry around. After all, when you only have fifteen minutes to grab a coffee, the last thing you want to do is rummage around for your wallet. Letting you pay by phone takes that one step further, because you always have your iPhone with you—right?
So, is this the future of store payment? Starbucks certainly seems positive about it. Here’s hoping that the next wave of trials includes the store near me—I may not be a Starbucks junkie anymore, but the baristas still make a great apple cider.