Starbucks has updated its mobile app to include support for Apple Pay, but the update stopped short of allowing Starbucks customers to pay for their in-store purchases using Apple's mobile payment system.
Version 3.2.1 of the Starbucks app for iOS now allows customers to load their apps directly from Apple Pay, thus eliminating the need to manage their account through various credit and debit cards.
The Starbucks app works just like a digital gift card that customers can use to pay for their orders. When the app's funds are running low, customers can load the app via an in-app purchase made through a credit or debit card. The new update, however, makes the transaction much more secure by taking away the need for a credit card and allowing customers to authorize loading transactions with the TouchID fingerprint sensor on their iPhone or their iPad.
However, customers will still not be allowed to pay for their daily lattes using Apple Pay directly. If they want to continue paying with their iPhones, they will still have to do that with the Starbucks app, and there are plenty of reasons for customers to continue doing so, such as the various rewards Starbucks offers to customers who pay for their drinks through the app.
On Starbucks' end, it is likely not going to install new point of sale systems to accommodate Apple Pay in its stores anytime soon because of its leverage. While Apple Pay has quickly become a significant success only a few months after its launch, the Starbucks app is still the most widely used mobile payment system in the United States and Canada. In January, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that the Starbucks app, which effectively combines payments with rewards, has more than 12 million monthly active users who make more than 6 million in-store payments every week.
During the coffee chain's quarterly earnings call last month, the company's global chief strategy officer Matt Ryan told investors that Starbucks is looking into working with other retailers who are interested in using Starbucks' mobile payment technology.
"We can tell you right now that we are in a series of very active conversations on this with both technology and financial services companies that would be potential partners here," Ryan said.
Still, the Apple Pay rollout for Starbucks in-app purchases could prove to be beneficial for Apple. If Starbucks customers see just how easy it is to use Apple Pay for in-app purchases, it just might motivate them enough to use Apple Pay for other purchases, albeit just not inside Starbucks' stores.
Users can now download the latest version of the Starbucks app.