If Starbucks has its way, your next office coffee cart will be a cashless payment terminal that dispenses your favorite brew in a matter of seconds. And perhaps, if things go really well, these machines might even land in your local Starbucks (hopefully to help the baristas out at the one with the really, really long line).
Moving us one step closer to this reality is the snazzy aluminum-clad dispenser that Starbucks and Visa demoed this month at the CTIA wireless tradeshow. It’s outfitted with a secure Visa reader, which accepts traditional credit cards or contactless payment methods. With contactless payments, customers can pay by tapping their NFC-equipped phones or RFID-enabled debit or credit cards via Visa’s PayWave or Mastercard’s PayPass.
Contactless payment technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) are still in their infancy, though, as security is still a concern. But it isn’t stopping Starbucks from distributing 500 of these machines to vendors across the United States and Canada. And this isn't the first time the coffee giant has experimented with mobile payments -- remember its popular cellphone app?
The terminals also have the ability to collect data detailing transactions and sales to see what kind of coffee people are buying and how much they’re spending on a particular day. There may not be an actual person to serve you, but Starbucks can use that data to tune these machines to its customers’ needs. Hint: buy more soy milk.
It isn’t far-fetched to think that these cashless-payment coffee machines may one day replace a human attendant, although some of us still appreciate being asked if we want room for milk.