Monday 17 September 2012

Starbucks phone payment is very cool ...

... but possibly not for the reason you think.

I paid for my coffee today at Starbucks using my phone. Before I tried it I had been wondering what the "pay now" button would do. Would it use the NFC capabilities of my phone? Would it connect over the internet to the Starbucks server and verify my payment? How would it synchronise with the till? When I actually did press the button I was pleasantly surprised to see that it just displays a bar-code on the screen for my Starbucks card.

This is super cool.

Why? Because it's a simple re-tooling of already existing technology and equipment to actually make things better, rather than an unecesarry application of new technology for dubious benefit. I can check my balance and top up my account while I am in the queue, scan my phone at the till and move on to getting my coffee all without having to break away from my twitter feed for more that 5 seconds. It may seem like it's not much improvement over getting my wallet out, but when things work smoothly, it makes a difference.

So here is to a clever little innovation that uses the things we already have - bar-code scanners and mobile phones - to make our lives easier. Now if all the other loyalty card people can get their act together and do app-versions then I can finally slim my wallet down to a reasonable size...