Starbucks Launches Its Square Payments Program Today

Hey, remember when Starbucks decided it was going to basically step to Apple, Google, and pretty much everybody else in the tech sector when it came to mobile payments? Yeah, that whole fight starts as of today. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of it, and why so many are so angry.

So, if you want to buy a latte with your phone, and don’t want to use Starbucks’ payment app, you’ll need the Square Wallet app. It’s for iOS 5 and later and Android 2.2 and up. Unlike many mobile payment apps, you won’t need an NFC card or similar extra tech: The Square Wallet app just requires you to select the Starbucks and say your name. It won’t be in every Starbucks just yet. The program is being run in 7,000 stores and if successful, will expand.

What does Starbucks get out of this? Savings. They do billions in business, a lot of it in credit cards, and you’ve got to pay swipe fees with those. If nothing else, having Square absorb that hit is good for business.

So who’s angry about this? In a word, everybody. Google has been struggling to gain acceptance for Google Wallet and ultimately just gave up and turned it into a card that you might actually use. Apple and Facebook are similarly trying to edge slowly into this space. So, having a major retailer that chose a mobile payments platform that isn’t theirs probably grinds a few gears.

Whether this remains a curiosity or explodes is a bit up in the air. To be honest, I’m a bit skeptical that mobile payments will grow at the rate analysts think. But if nothing else, Square gets its app out there: Everybody will try this at least once.