Starbucks takes its wireless payments on the road

Starbucks is introducing contactless payments in the U.K., partnering with Visa Europe and Barclaycard to roll out near field communication (NFC) point of sale terminals across 550 stores.

According to Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing for Starbucks U.K., the coffee shop chain made the decision to roll out the NFC technology to speed transaction times, claiming that two-thirds of its customers are now paying by credit or debit card rather than cash.

In the U.S., the coffee giant is teaming with mobile payments processor Square to support using mobile devices as credit card readers. Its digital payment system also integrates with Passbook in iOS 6.

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"We are now able to provide our customers with the quickest and most convenient ways to pay, to speed up service and cut queue times," Cranna said, adding that the contactless payment terminals will add to the range of payment methods at Starbucks. The firm has also previously developed mobile payment applications, allowing Android and iOS smartphone users which have signed up to its loyalty card scheme to pay in hundreds of stores in the U.K. via a barcode generated on the device.

Starbucks now joins a number of other companies which have rolled out the contactless payment technology in the U.K., including Boots, which has introduced the technology to 600 U.K. and Ireland stores earlier this year, and the Post Office, which last year announced plans for the largest contactless payments scheme in Europe. In addition, Marks and Spencer recently extended a contactless payment trial across 644 stores, and claims to now take over 230,000 contactless transactions every week in the U.K., while contactless payments are made on buses in London.

Mark Austin, vice president at Visa Europe, added that as use of contactless payments gathers pace—with one in four U.K. Visa cards now contactless payment enabled—it is expected usage to "quadruple again by the end of 2013".

However there have been teething problems with the technology. A number of Marks and Spencer customers recently complained that they have been charged on two payments cards for single transactions, according to reports, after the payment terminal inadvertently completed a transaction using another NFC enabled card.

Awareness of the technology still has a way to go too, with a recent survey from eDigitalResearch showing that the majority of those owning an NFC enabled card are unaware of their ability to make contactless payments, though the percentage has grown in the last 12 months.

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