Starbucks joins up with Square, shatters all you thought you knew about money

Marc Sanchez Aug 8, 2012

The coffee giant, or should I say coffee venti, announced yesterday that it’s teaming up with Square, that little thingy you saw hanging off an iPhone or iPad at that boho art fair you went to a couple weeks ago. In addition to shipping out the mobile payment device to 7,000 of its U.S. stores, Starbucks will also invest $25 million in the company, and Bucks’ honcho Howard Shultz will sit on Square’s board.

The Wall Street Journal says:

Square technology won’t replace Starbucks’s main cash-register systems, and customers will still be able to use the popular Starbucks mobile payment app that the company launched in January 2011. The key difference is that Square will allow the customers to pay with credit and debit cards on their phone, while Starbucks’s current system only allows consumers to use their Starbucks debit card to pay.

Square recently introduced an app of its own, which not only lets you pay for stuff using your phone, but gives vendors the ability to know when a customer enters a store and lets them offer digital customer loyalty cards. The New York Times illustrates what your future java ritual might look like:

At first, Starbucks customers will need to show the merchant a bar code on their phones. But when Starbucks uses Square’s full GPS technology, the customer’s phone will automatically notify the store that the customer has entered, and the customer’s name and photo will pop up on the cashier’s screen. The customer will give the merchant his or her name, Starbucks will match the photo and the payment will be complete.

It starts with coffee, people, but next thing you know you’re going to be walking into Target, greeted by a shopping cart full of your “favorite items.” Pretty soon we’ll all just be yelling “buy that!” at our computers and phones.

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