Customers with registered Starbucks Reward Cards will be able to make purchases in all 700 UK Starbucks stores using a one-click iPhone or iPod Touch app from January. It is also developing an Android app that it hopes to launch at the start of 2012.

The coffee chain said it “did not want to wait” for the development of NFC and it becoming mainstream. Because so few handsets are currently NFC capable, Starbucks chose to develop its own mobile payment system using iPhone apps.

Brian Waring, VP of marketing and category for Starbucks in the UK, says: “There’s no doubt that mobile payments are going to be the future of shopping, but it’s not clear how it’s going to develop. We just didn’t want to wait. Ours is so simple and it enhances the whole experience for customers.”

He adds that it not only speeds up the purchases for customers using the app by shaving 10 seconds off the transaction time, but speeds up the queuing process for other customers.

Starbucks claims that one in five of its two million customers do not use cash to pay in stores and the mobile payment app will give customers another way to pay.

It introduced the option in the US in early 2011 and claims 20 million payments have been made using the technology in its 6,800 US stores.
UK customers will also be able to use the app in international Starbucks stores that offer the capability as it updates to give the cash balance in the local currency.