New App Lets Starbucks Customers Pay By Smartphone

A future where people use their cell phones to not only make calls and surf the Internet, but also to pay for food and other purchases¬† — it may not be that far off.

Always forward thinking, coffee mega-chain Starbucks announced yesterday that its U.S. customers can now pay for their lattes in-store by scanning their smartphones at the register.

The technology is currently available for BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod Touch users; Starbucks is working on an Android app. The set up is easy: you simply download the Starbucks Card app and then purchases are deducted from the balance in your Starbucks account (which you can load with a credit card or PayPal).

New York Times tech blog Bits writes of the news, “Various technology and payments companies, including PayPal, Bling Nation, Square, Venmo and now-deceased dot-com start-ups have been experimenting with ways to wean Americans off cash, credit cards or both. But the introduction of mobile payments in Starbucks stores may be the most mainstream example yet.”

Starbucks thinks that this new tech will save customers time, and it probably is a bit easier than remembering to bring your plastic Starbucks card (or trying to dig it out of an overcrowded bag or wallet). Regardless, the “pay-by-smartphone” trend is certainly indicative of what the future holds for consumers — using your cell as both mini-computer and wallet. As if there weren’t already enough reasons to dread losing your phone.