Finally, one of the most overlapping Venn diagrams in the world, with Starbucks drinkers in one circle and potential Apple Pay users in the other, will officially and fully merge. Starbucks and Apple have announced that very soon that pumpkin spice latte will be buyable with Apple Pay.
Further bonus, if that doesn’t quite fill you up, Apple Pay is also extending into KFC and Chili’s, so the whole experience can be rounded off by a bucket of fried chicken or a guacamole burger as needed.
The news came care of Apple Pay’s vice president, Jennifer Bailey, who announced the Starbucks integration, along with the others, at the annual Code/Mobile conference in San Francisco.
“I have to say, in the last year of working on Apple Pay, we’ve seen a sea change in momentum around acceptance at the merchant level,” Bailey noted during her remarks. She further stated that, among Apple Watch owners, Apple Pay has been particularly popular.
Starbucks will see its first pilot of Apple Pay in the last part of 2015 and will roll it out to Starbucks’ company-owned stores — about 7,500 — next year.
The news of the pair-up with a big player like Starbucks — one that independently has its own extremely popular mobile payments brand — comes at an opportune time for Apple, as the headlines this week have been dominated by reports of Apple Pay’s weak performance in its first year out of the gate. The week has also seen Apple’s efforts to give its payments platform (and its wearable, the Apple Watch) a different and more practicality-centered push through an obviously rethought out marketing campaign.
The last few weeks have also seen high-profile launches of Apple Pay competitors, the also NFC-based Android Pay and the universally (or almost universally) accepted Samsung Pay.
Why Apple wants Starbucks is obvious; why Starbucks wants Apple is less so. Starbucks is the creator of America’s most popular mobile payments platform. It just hired a new head of digital, and its mobile momentum is massive. Its willingness to share some of that mobile magic with Apple is indicative of its great confidence in its own mobile offering (which is tied into its rewards programs and has been extremely popular) and its ability to let Apple safely play in its sandbox.
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