Starbucks Corp.’s Grande-sized mobile payments trial has gone Venti.

The Seattle-based coffee chain on Jan. 19 said it has expanded its smartphone payment system to include about 6,800 company-operated stores after piloting the technology for more than a year

The payment application, which works with Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod Touch and some of Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry devices, enables users to pay for purchases by displaying a bar code on their phone’s screen at checkout. The cashier scans the bar code, deducting funds from the customer’s prepaid Starbucks Card account.

Customers can manage their accounts using the same downloadable mobile application that generates the bar codes. Starbucks has said a perk of this system is it enables customers to top off their card balances while waiting in line, which saves them time when they get to the register.

“Today, one in five Starbucks transactions is made using a Starbucks Card, and mobile payment will extend the way our customers experience and use their Starbucks Card,” Brady Brewer, vice president of Starbucks Card and brand loyalty, said in a press release.

Starbucks is one of the first and only major national retailers to have a mobile-payments program in place. The company started its trial at several West Coast stores in late 2009, later expanding it to about 1,000 Starbucks inside Target Corp.’s stores. In October, it added another 300 stores in New York and on Long Island (see story).

In December, Starbucks announced plans to roll out its mobile-payment application, which was developed by the Larkspur, Calif.-based vendor mFoundry Inc., to all company-operated stores by the end of March (see story).

Starbucks’ customers loaded more than $1.5 billion on Starbucks Cards in 2010, up 21% from a year earlier, the company said.


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