Starbucks Corp. has begun a national rollout of the mobile-payment system it began testing more than a year ago, the company announced Dec. 1.

By this spring, customers will be able to pay for purchases at all U.S. company-owned stores using an application available on Apple Inc. iPhones and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry mobile devices that draws funds from Starbucks prepaid loyalty card accounts. Observers expect the company soon to add an app usable on phones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

The test, which began in California in late 2009, expanded in February to include more than 1,000 locations, including Starbucks stores inside Target Corp. In October, the trial added 300 stores in New York City and on Long Island (see story).

Starbucks is in the midst of installing special readers at the point of sale in more than 9,000 of its stores across the U.S. The readers enable customers to make purchases when clerks scan a two-dimensional bar code displayed on their mobile-phone screen.

The company did not confirm which other markets are equipped yet, but this week it added Honeywell International Inc.-branded mobile-payment scanners at Phoenix-area stores. Larkspur, Calif.-based mFoundry Inc. developed Starbucks’ mobile-payment system.

Consumers may fund their prepaid accounts through Starbucks’ mobile app using a major credit card or via PayPal Inc.’s payment system (see story). The app also enables customers to check their rewards-program status.

At its biannual investors conference on Dec.1 in New York, Cliff Burrows, Starbucks U.S. president, said the company plans to complete the nationwide rollout of its mobile-payment system by the end of its second fiscal quarter in March as part of the company’s goal to increase checkout speeds at the point of sale and to improve customer convenience.

Starbucks customers loaded more than $1.5 billion into the company’s loyalty card accounts in fiscal 2010 ended Sept. 30, up 20% from the previous year, the company announced in November (see story).

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