May 23, 2018

Google and Apple can’t brew up a mobile-pay platform as hot as the Starbucks app

By keeping a consistent (and caffeinated) consumer base engaged using sweet perks, Starbucks has built the world’s largest mobile payment platform.

Caffeine junkies have made Starbucks’ mobile payment platform more popular than competing Apple and Google products, reports eMarketer.

Anchored by loyalty programs, the mobile coffee-payment app is expected to command a larger market than competitors Google, Apple, and Samsung’s payment systems for at least the next 4 years.

Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty programs

Other mobile payment programs work at all kinds of stores, instead of just coffee-shops, but consumers still don’t use them because they don’t offer clear advantages to credit cards (which are still more widely accepted).

The Starbucks mobile app, on the other hand, offers a loyalty program built on “star rewards” that is chockfull-o’advantages — such as free cups of coffee, wait-free pre-ordering, and birthday gifts.

Since Starbucks debuted mobile payments in 2011, it has amassed more customer cash than many banks — $1.2B as of 2016. The coffee giant continues to add new ways to earn star rewards (like the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card) to maintain its mobile-payment mastery.

The only thing consumers crave more than coffee is consistency

The number of buzzed customers who habitually use Starbucks’ mobile payment app is expected to rise from 20.7m today to 29.8m by 2022, widening Starbucks’ lead over Apple.

Apple and Google products may be more habit-forming than Starbucks’ jitter juice, but if Apple Pay and Google Pay hope to win over consistent customers, they’ll need to sweeten the pot with something that actually benefits consumers.

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