A phone that picks up coffee

Anyone trying to save money by reining in a Starbucks habit? The challenge is about to get harder, at least for smartphone users. A few weeks ago, the company announced that customers across the country can now get a fix without ever taking out their wallets. The drinks aren’t free, but there’s a new way to pay for them—by holding their iPhones in front of the register. The money comes out of their Starbucks or Paypal accounts. This technology is about to hit all kinds of stores – it’s already widespread in Japan and South Korea (figures).

Time is money, so I suppose eliminating the wallet/card-drawing step from transactions may be a good thing for consumers. On the other hand, in the perpetual struggle to avoid impulse buying, slower is better. Even using a credit card instead of cash can make it easy to forget how much we’re spending, and one-click shopping with saved credit card information is the downfall of the would-be saver. Buying a latte in half the time you used to, however, is not going to break the bank – and it is going to make life easier for customers and baristas alike. Bottom line: this seems like a great way to make the coffee/deli/grocery line move faster, but don’t let it encourage you to make more significant purchases without thinking carefully first.

Also… has anyone used their phone to pay yet? Is it as cool as it sounds?