Starbucks Enables Mobile Payments via iPhone, Blackberry

Starbucks customers can pay for their coffee with Apple's iPhone or RIM's BlackBerry Tour, Curve or Storm smartphones. No Google Android app is available yet but it's in the works.

Starbucks Jan. 18 said it is taking its pay-by-smartphone effort national in more than 7,800 locations around the country.

Users of Apple's iPhone and iPod touch or Research in Motion's BlackBerry Tour, Curve or Storm smartphones can download the new Starbucks Card Mobile App to pay for their coffee, pastries and other goodies at Starbuck's 6,800 stores and 1,000 Starbucks location in Target stores.

Once the download is complete, users may enter their card number and their device will display a barcode they can use as their Starbucks Card to make purchases at the register's 2-D scanner.

Starbucks Card Mobile can also can view transactions, check their balance, reload their card with any major credit card, and track Stars in the My Starbucks Rewards program.

The program marks a massive expansion of the company's test flights, which initiated in September 2009 across Starbucks locations in Seattle, Northern California and New York.

Starbucks said in a statement one in five Starbucks transactions is now made with the store cards, on which customers loaded more than $1.5 billion last year.

The new Starbucks Card Mobile apps should extend the company's mobile payments system to even more users.

There are a few glaring omissions from Starbucks Card Mobile's platform support, namely Android, which now accounts for one quarter of all U.S. smartphones, and Windows Phone 7, which are expected to pick up steam this year.

Starbucks told Mashable it is working on the Android app.

Mashable also noted that Starbucks has also built its own 2-D scanning technology to enable the mobile barcode scans.

As in, it's not the near field communications technology Google has gotten everyone excited about by incorporating it into its Samsung Nexus S handset and natively in Android 2.3.

NFC is a short-range wireless technology that allows users to make payments with handsets similar to the way users swipe to pay for lattes with their Starbucks Card Mobile apps.

Chuck Davidson, the category manager of innovation on the Starbucks Card team, told Mashable his company was reluctant "to wait for a NFC ecosystem to develop when its customers have expressed interest in mobile payments now."

Starbucks could be reworking its technology this year if Android 2.3 handsets, powered by NXP chips and software, as well as Apple's iPhone 5 and future RIM handsets incorporate NFC as planned.