buy metformin online buy propecia buy clomid buy synthroid seroquel

Analysts: Starbucks’ Bar-Code Embrace Unlikely to Slow NFC

By: 
Tom Zind

While NFC-based mobile payment could roll out by late this year, Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee shop chain, has made it clear it is not prepared to wait.

Starbucks announced yesterday it would roll out its mobile-payment service based on 2-D bar-code technology to all 6,800 company-owned Starbucks stores in the United States, in addition to 1,000 other Starbucks outlets in Target discount department stores. It has billed the service as the "largest mobile-payment program in the U.S."

But at least two mobile-payment analysts and the head of the company that developed the m-payment application for Starbucks believe the 2-D bar code technology is only a prelude to NFC, perhaps even for Starbucks itself.

Nick Holland, senior analyst with Yankee Group research, said he doubts 2-D bar codes will form the foundation of any new mobile-payment infrastructure. But it’s a workable technology that’s attractive to such progressive merchants as Starbucks that are keen to offer mobile payment.

"This looks to be the right fit for Starbucks customers, who are tech-savvy high spenders up the development curve on using mobile devices," he told NFC Times.

Holland said Starbucks’ initiative could get many more U.S. consumers comfortable with using mobile phones for payment. And by moving full speed ahead with bar-code payment now, Starbucks is positioning itself for whatever course mobile-payment technology takes, one he thinks will ultimately lead to NFC.

Even though it has decided to fully embrace bar codes for mobile payment, Starbucks has probably been careful not to close the door on NFC or any other technology, agrees Beth Robertson, director of payments research for U.S.-based Javelin Strategy & Research. It’s unlikely, she said, that a company such as Starbucks, even though it has expressed reservations about NFC, would have invested in a technology that would restrict its ability to adapt to an ever-changing payments landscape.

"I don’t think it is the wrong step for them to take, and it doesn’t preclude them from getting involved with or accepting NFC transactions," she told NFC Times. "Ultimately, they could even set it up to where they could do both."

The Starbucks mobile-payment app, now available for iPhones, the iPod Touch and several BlackBerry models, is based on the coffee chain’s popular prepaid Starbucks Card. Customers use the private-label card for one in five transactions at Starbucks coffee shops and last year loaded $1.5 billion in their card accounts, up more than 20% from 2009, said the company.

With the app, after the customer scans the 2-D bar code, or QR Code, at the point of sale, Starbucks deducts the amount of the purchase from his Starbucks Card account over the network. The app also lets cardholders track the card balance, add to it with a major credit card, check the status of rewards points and locate nearby Starbucks outlets. IPhone users also can reload with their PayPal accounts

Vendor: 'We're Not Pushing 2-D'
Drew Sievers, the co-founder and CEO of U.S.-based mFoundry, which developed the app for Starbucks, was touting the rollout announcement yesterday to journalists. But he doesn’t see his company's future in bar codes.

"We’re not pushing 2-D bar-code technology," he said. "We’re heavily focused on helping our bank customers with NFC solutions."

Yet, given the persistent uncertainties about the timing of NFC and how it will eventually play out, Starbucks has likely tied its mobile-payment ambitions to the bar-code-based application until something fundamentally changes in the availability of NFC or other mobile-payment technology, he added.

"Two ways to look at this are that their capital expenditure on this is a validation of this (bar-code) technology, and also that it’s a stepping stone to NFC, although maybe not for Starbucks," Sievers told NFC Times. "If I’m Starbucks, I can support this bar-code system with any phone on the market. Why would I wait for an (NFC) ecosystem that’s been running in place for (nearly) 10 years?"

Starbucks has indicated in the past the bar-code app is an interim step, but it’s not clear if that remains the case given its decision to roll out the technology nationwide.

Chuck Davidson, category manager for innovation for the Starbucks Card earlier told NFC Times that while he’s a fan of NFC, “bar codes are our proxy right now." That was last fall, after Starbucks had expanded its trial to 300 New York City locations. Bar codes are the “the quickest way” to learn how customers take to mobile payment, he said at the time. A Starbucks representative was not available for comment yesterday following the rollout announcement.

With the decision by Starbucks to go with bar codes for payment, other merchants clamoring to try mobile payment might take it as a cue, Javelin’s Robertson said.

Though confident that NFC will eventually emerge as the vehicle for mobile payments, the analyst said there could be heightened interest among those who’ve looked into bar codes. The technology’s comparative affordability and the ease of deploying it without needing phones equipped with special chips have led to bar-code technology making inroads in such markets as Japan in some application categories, she said.

"It isn’t a given right now that NFC is the right solution, so at this point I think some merchants are actively considering bar-code solutions," she said. "If NFC is too expensive to deploy or something else of that nature (becomes a roadblock) bar-code solutions might end up being something that could find their way into the market."

While offering a simpler way to gear up to offer mobile payment, bar codes have their drawbacks, which could give users pause. Analyst Holland said bar codes have the potential to be duplicated, saved and used fraudulently. They also can be a bit cumbersome to use compared with contactless tapping, since the 2-D bar code on the phone screen must be properly lined up with the scanner. NFC payment is also expected to be faster.

Clearly, Starbucks found a way to overcome these and other obstacles, Holland said. While the full implications of the giant chain’s move are hard to gauge, it’s certainly significant in the context of mobile-payment development, he said.

"Looking at it in terms of 'signal' and 'noise,' this goes beyond noise," he said. “This is something that’s actually going on, where a physical merchant is putting its money where its mouth is. NFC will take some time to develop; this is something that’s another step along the way." 

HEADLINE NEWS

Amid High-Profile Win with Apple, NXP Quietly Loses NFC Business for Samsung’s Galaxy Handsets

NFC Times Exclusive: While NXP Semiconductors won the coveted contract to supply NFC chips and secure elements to Apple for its new iPhone models, it has been cut out of the recent business for Samsung Galaxy handsets, including the Note 4.

NFC Booster Chip in New iPhones One Key to Apple Pay Performance, Though Not Yet Standardized

NFC Times Exclusive: In what is believed to be one of the first uses for NFC booster technology in NFC phones, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature an amplifier chip enabling a unique antenna design by Apple for its Apple Pay service that launched Monday.

Japan’s NFC Device Rollout Tops 20 Million, Though Still Few Places for Consumers to Use Them

Japan’s rollout of phones and tablets supporting standard NFC technology has topped the 20 million mark, with Japan’s three major mobile operators deploying the handsets with NFC chips along with domestic FeliCa technology. But Japanese consumers still have few places to use the hybrid devices.

Apple to Launch Payments Service on Monday in U.S., Shuns Support for NFC in Tablets

Oct 17 2014 (All day)

Apple’s new tablets, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, unveiled today, will support the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to enable users to make purchases in apps with Apple Pay, but not in stores with NFC.

Despite NFC-Enabled iPhone and Watch, Hotels Appear to be Opting for BLE for Phone-Based Door Keys

NFC Times Exclusive: Several hotel chains are planning to start equipping certain properties with door locks supporting Bluetooth low energy by the early part of next year, or are seriously investigating the technology, which enables guests to enter their rooms with keys stored on their smartphones, Legic Identsystems, one of the technology vendors involved, told NFC Times.

China UnionPay Reportedly Strikes Deal with Samsung to Use Embedded Chips

Oct 9 2014 (All day)

Samsung Electronics reportedly says it has an agreement with payment network China UnionPay that would enable embedded chips in more than 3 million of its devices in China with China UnionPay’s contactless-payments service, though no banks have yet been mentioned as issuers.

NFC Forum Launches ‘Tap Into NFC’ Developer Program, Though Apple’s Platform Remains Closed

As the NFC Forum launches a new program to attract more application developers to the NFC ecosystem, the organization told NFC Times that it is encouraged by Apple’s adoption but considers it likely that the NFC developer community will focus on Android for the near future.

Taiwanese Telco Launches NFC; Implementation Issues with Mifare Limits Handset Models

Oct 2 2014 (All day)

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s largest telco, Chunghwa Telecom, Wednesday announced the launch of its long-planned NFC commercial service, enabling MasterCard PayPass credit cards from four banks, along with one of the first mobile NFC services supporting a Mifare transit purse, EasyCard.

Taiwan’s No. 1 Telco Prepares to Announce NFC Commercial Launch

Oct 1 2014 (All day)

Taiwan’s largest mobile operator, Chunghwa Telecom, will announce the small commercial launch of NFC service on Wednesday, with participation from MasterCard Worldwide, four major banks and the island nation’s largest transit and retail e-purse, EasyCard, NFC Times has learned.

People on the Move: Visa Europe’s Director of Mobile Joins Apple

Apple has hired Visa Europe’s director of mobile, Mary Carol Harris, as the tech giant gears up for its expected launch of Apple Pay in Europe later next year.

Makers of NFC Accessories Targeting iPhone Contend Their Market is Not Lost

NFC Times Exclusive: Despite the announcement by Apple of its first NFC-enabled iPhone, released Friday, promoters of NFC-enabled attachments targeting the iPhone contend they will not lose business.

NFC Forum Adds Long-Awaited Analog Testing to Its Device Certification Program

The NFC Forum has added the final major component to its device certification with the addition of analog testing, but the impact of the development on handset makers’ willingness to submit their devices for certification remains to be seen.