Starbucks rolls on in mobile payments. Can OpenTable succeed there too?

Starbucks said today that it will roll out some enhancements for its iPhone app starting next week that will include a “streamlined design,” an overhauled display of users’ status in the company’s popular loyalty program, and the ability to tip directly from the phone. The update, which will launch March 19, will also include a “Shake to Pay” feature that calls up the barcode from customers’ Starbucks card with just a shake, eliminating the need to drill down into the app.

Meanwhile, Eater SF reports that OpenTable is taking its mobile payments service out of a pilot program and offering it to any of its iOS users. The app, which is currently supported only by a dozen San Francisco restaurants, allows diners to view their check as it updates during their meal, then pay it (including tipping) without interacting with the server.

Starbucks has seen tremendous success in mobile payments even as they flop pretty much everywhere else in North America, and the new features demonstrate that the company is once again focusing on engagement, value and ease of use at the counter. I have yet to use OpenTable’s offering (I don’t live in San Francisco), but the online reservation company is well positioned to gain some traction in mobile payments as well: The app appears to be well integrated into restaurants’ POS systems, making real-time usage easy, and OpenTable boasts a massive customer base that may be eager to offer the service. Most importantly, it rewards users by saving them time when it comes to paying the check. I’ve written that few players will be able to approach Starbucks’ success in mobile payments, but OpenTable has a chance.

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Colin Gibbs

Colin Gibbs

Mobile Curator Gigaom Network

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