US coffee chain Starbucks on Wednesday began allowing customers in its US stores to keep their cash and credit cards in their wallets and pay for their drinks with mobile phones.
Starbucks said the mobile payment system, which has been tested in selected cities since last year, was being expanded to the nearly 6,800 Starbucks around the country and the more than 1,000 Starbucks located in Target stores.
While Japanese shoppers have been able to pay by mobile phone for years for certain purchases, the practice is still in its infancy in the United States.
The Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks said its mobile payment program will be the largest in the country.
Starbucks said owners of a Blackberry smartphone, an iPhone or an iPod Touch who have downloaded the free Starbucks Card mobile application can buy drinks by waving their mobile phone at a scanner at the cash register.
The scanner reads an on-screen barcode and debits the purchase from the Starbucks Card, which can be reloaded with funds using a credit card or with PayPal.
"Starbucks anticipates mobile payment will be a draw for customers looking to experience the speed, ease and convenience of paying with their mobile phone," the company said in a statement.
Google last month unveiled a new mobile phone, the "Nexus S," powered by its Android software, that allows for another form of mobile payment.
The Nexus S is equipped with a near field communication (NFC) chip that turns the device into a virtual wallet, allowing users to "tap and pay" for financial transactions.
NFC chips store personal data that can be transmitted to readers, say at a shop checkout stand, by tapping a handset on a pad.
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