On January 19th, Starbucks launched its virtual Starbucks Card mobile payment app for the iPhone and select BlackBerry devices nationwide after running a number of tests in a few select markets last year. Today the company announced that it has already processed more than 1 million transactions since then. The app provides users with a virtual Starbucks card that allows them to make purchases after pre-loading the card with cash and also functions as a rewards card.
To make purchases, users simply present their phone with the virtual barcode to the cashier, who then scans this code. The company promises to release an Android version of its application soon and is also working on enabling support for the BlackBerry Torch in the BlackBerry version.
This is, of course, only a primitive precursor to the NFC-enabled phones that are quickly finding their way into the market. Starbucks’ success does show, however, that consumers in the U.S. are more than willing to use their phones to make payments. Indeed, chances are that app-based payment systems like Starbucks’ are only a stop-gap solution until more phones come with built-in NFC chips.