In September 2009 (article 1, article 2) we witnessed some groundbreaking technology out of Starbucks and mFoundry: an iPhone app that allowed Starbucks users to track rewards and make payments directly from their mobile phones.
According to Jon Squire, mFoundry's SVP of payments, "We have a foundation in mobile financial services, but we've also been first to market with a national P2P application through our partnership with PayPal." He added that they're also working on projects involving travel, mobile ticketing and coupons. Their experience with mobile payments seems to have made their partnership with Starbucks shine.
Last year when the Starbucks app rolled out, it could be used only at 16 Starbucks stores (8 in Seattle, 8 in Silicon Valley). Then in April, Starbucks broadened the roll-out, first adding Starbucks stores within 1,000 Target stores. Target was implementing a similar mobile payments app, so system allowances could be made to allow their Starbucks registers to accept the Starbucks payments app more readily than outfitting a standalone Starbucks store (though Starbucks registers cannot accept Target payment apps).
Since the Target trials, the Starbucks application has expanded to all U.S. Target stores with Starbucks stores inside. A list of available locations and a link to download "Starbucks Card Mobile" is available here. The application's rapid deployment and adoption is being attributed to the use of a bar code rather than an NFC chip, which would need to be added or affixed to the phone (see barcode example below).
mFoundry does not have usage statistics to share, but Jon Squire tells us, "I can say that Starbucks has been excited enough by the results to increase coverage as rapidly as possible."