Last updated: August 10, 2012 - 7:55am
Starbucks joined forces with Square, a technology start-up that lets you pay for things with a smartphone. Coming from a company whose cafes seem to be on every corner, that’s a powerful endorsement. Does that mean your phone will soon replace your wallet?
That’s hardly certain, because any company offering mobile payments faces a big challenge: convincing people that paying with a phone is safer and more convenient than using cash or a credit card. But the partnership will clearly give a lot more exposure to Square, a company in San Francisco with about 300 employees, and to the idea of mobile payments in general. “The biggest friction has been places to pay,” said Jack Dorsey, the founder of Square, in an interview. He said that with so many different companies trying to get a piece of the market, paying with a phone has been a “fragmented” experience. But the Starbucks partnership should widen the use of Square specifically, he said. Indeed, businesses of all kinds, including big companies like Google, Microsoft and Sprint and small start-ups like GoPago and Scvngr, are hoping to profit from mobile payments — if only they can figure out what kind of system appeals to consumers and merchants.
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