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.
Starbucks is testing a new store concept that sounds like a radical departure from the latte version you visit here in the United States.
Located in the former vault of a historic bank on Rembrandtplein, the new shop will be a showcase for sustainable interior design and slow coffee brewing, with small-batch reserve coffees and Europe’s first-ever Clover, a high-end machine that brews one cup at a time. But the most radical departure is in the aesthetic: the multilevel space is awash in recycled and local materials; walls are lined with antique Delft tiles, bicycle inner tubes, and wooden gingerbread molds; repurposed Dutch oak was used to make benches, tables, and the undulating ceiling relief consisting of 1,876 pieces of individually sawn blocks. The Dutch-born Liz Muller, Starbucks concept design director, commissioned more than 35 artists and craftsmen to add their quirky touches to the 4,500-square-foot space.
After 13 years of existence in the U.S (it has been around longer in Europe), Fair Trade is finally going mainstream. As the label becomes ubiquitous, CEO Paul Rice is taking the standard into new industries and to new heights. Read more onThe Mainstreaming Of Fair Trade
It’s surprising that more people aren’t talking about this. We’ve reported on the Starbucks Cup Dilemma in the past, and it’s clear that corporate sustainability has serious limits. Even in this showdown between Starbucks and McDonald’s Starbucks barely edged out MickeyD’s when it came to measuring impact on our Earth. Entering the juice-bar market may seem like it makes good business sense, but is it a smart solution for our planet?
Wake Up Call of the Day: According to Starbucks’ sustainability director Jim Hanna, the coffeehouse chain may soon be unable to sell its principal product due to the detrimental impact of climate change on coffee bean production.
“What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna told the Guardian in a phone interview.
Hanna is set to speak before members of Congress today on the issue of climate change and how it’s real and how someone should do something about it before we run out of coffee and chocolate and a whole bunch of other foodstuffs “many people can’t live without.”
Starbucks has already put Plan B in motion, announcing yesterday it plans to enter the juice-bar market — news that freaked out Jamba Juice stockholders, causing the price of JMBA to drop 3.5%.
Yesterday, Senator Charles Schumer held a press conference in an unusual place: Birch Coffee, a cafe near Madison Square Park in Manhattan.
With the funny choice of venue, the senator was making a point: even your friendly neighborhood barista might just be a malevolent hacker. And he doesn’t even need to know how to write a line of code to do so.
It seems likely that Schumer’s recent concern was piqued by a New York Timesarticle from February 16th, which drew attention to the new vulnerabilities faced by WiFi users. In particular, a free program called Firesheep, which first made waves in October. Firesheep makes hacking your fellow cafe-goer a simple, user-friendly, DIY affair. Firesheep takes advantage of a lack of end-to-end encryption, allowing hackers to grab cookies, the snippets of code that indentify your private information. This, in turn, enables hackers to masquerade as you on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, or eBay. Over a million people have downloaded the program. (Fast Company covered Firesheep months ago.)
Sites that use HTTPS, rather than HTTP, are safe from this sort of hacking. Banking sites tend to use HTTPS, but other sites like the ones mentioned above do not. The purpose of the Schumer conference was to call on sites like Twitter and Amazon to start beefing up their security, acting more like banks.
So just how easy is Firesheep is use? Even a Senator’s aide can do it! A Schumer staffer hacked into the Twitter account of a nearby colleague. Call it consensual hacking. Anyhow, it impressed reporters, as did Schumer’s talk of the HTTP protocol as “a welcome mat for would-be hackers” and a “one-stop-shop for identity theft.”
Easy solution: Don’t go to Starbucks or any coffee shop. Better yet, never leave your house. Stay at home with all the safe Internet you can have, where you belong.