Interface and product design win again.
When selecting a partner to power mobile payments in its stores, Starbucks could have approached Google, one of the most profitable companies in the world. It could have worked with PayPal, which already has more than 106 million users in the payments space. Or Isis, a consortium formed by telecom giants Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile that is also producing a “mobile wallet.”
“I’m sure if you and I were to rattle off the names of everyone in the space, that at some level we’ve been in discussions with them,” Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman tells Fast Company. Presumably that includes Mastercard, Visa, and Verifone, which handles $10 billion in global transactions per year. But Starbucks chose to partner with Square, a three-year-old startup. Why?
“They’re focused with a level of intensity on the customer experience,” Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz told a small group of reporters Wednesday morning.
In other words, Square treats payments a lot like Starbucks treats coffee: by focusing on the experience around a product that is more or less a commodity.