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Starbucks to Roll Out Digital Tip and Shake-to-Pay App Features

  |  March 17, 2014   |  Comments

Starbucks is updating its iPhone and Android apps to simplify mobile payments and enable customers to leave digital tips.

tippingStarbucks is updating its iPhone app to allow customers to tip their baristas directly from the app as well as to shake their phones to pay for their coffees.

As of March 19, the brand says customers using the Starbucks App for iPhone in the U.S., U.K., and Canada will find "a streamlined design and easy access to their [accounts] and My Starbucks Rewards information."

In addition, customers will also find the option to leave a tip at more than 7,000 company-operated stores in the U.S. Customers with the Starbucks iPhone app who want to leave a digital tip will have to enable push notifications. They will then receive the option to provide a $0.50, $1 or $2 tip.

In addition, to simplify mobile payments, Starbucks says customers will be able to bring the barcode of their Starbucks Card front and center by simply shaking their mobile device - a feature Starbucks rep Maggie Jantzen describes as "fun and convenient."

While digital tipping is limited to the U.S. for now, Jantzen says Shake to Pay will be available in other markets.

To pay with a mobile device, the Starbucks app for iPhone displays a barcode that can be used like a Starbucks Card. Consumers hold the mobile device in front of a scanner on the countertop and scan the app's on-screen barcode to make a purchase.

Customers can also access their Starbucks accounts using Passbook, which allows their mobile Starbucks Cards to appear on their iPhone screens automatically after they enter Starbucks stores.

Starbucks expects to introduce an update to its Starbucks for Android app, including a digital tipping feature, later this year.

It was not immediately clear whether the Shake to Pay feature will be available for Android users as well.

Jantzen says Starbucks initially launched its apps in 2011.

According to Starbucks, digital tipping has been a top suggestion on MyStarbucksIdea.com, an online community for consumers to "share, vote, discuss, and put into action ideas on how to enhance the Starbucks Experience" that launched in 2008.

Shake to Pay, however was a feature the brand thought "would be something convenient and easy," Jantzen says.

Other MyStarbucksIdea.com innovations include Starbucks' splash sticks, Jantzen adds.

"With more than 11 percent of transactions a week now happening with a mobile device in our stores, and nearly 10 million customers currently using our mobile app, we're thrilled to make the digital experience even easier and more rewarding for our customers and partners," said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks, in a statement.

That 10 million figure accounts for worldwide mobile users. Jantzen did not have a figure specifically for U.S. mobile users.

Starbucks says it offers mobile payment options to customers at nearly 14,000 locations worldwide. The Starbucks apps for Android and iPhone devices are available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Square Wallet, an app that enables customers to pay with iPhone or Android devices, is also available, but to U.S. customers only.


Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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