Starbucks Debuts Mobile App in India

March 21, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

To many, it was a disturbing notion: why was Starbucks taking so long to bring its wildly successful mobile app to its fastest-growing market, India? Almost every day that went by made people only wonder more just what was going on.

New word says that it’s finally landing, though, and bringing with it many of the same features that made the original great.

Not only does it incorporate the mobile payments feature that was widely enjoyed in much of the rest of the world, but users can also enjoy the “Stars” system, Starbucks’ rewards program, every time they make a purchase. Users will have access to redeeming offers as well as store locator options, along with both the Scan to Pay and Shake to Pay options.

Sadly, users won’t be able to feed their Starbucks wallet from a mobile wallet, rather only from banks, at least for the time being. Essentially, as noted by Tata Starbucks CEO Sumitro Ghosh—Starbucks’ Indian operations are actually part of a joint venture with Tata Global Beverages—the Starbucks app is effectively a mobile wallet, and as such, is being treated like one. That’s an odd distinction to make, but one that’s within their prerogative to make.

With Starbucks bringing its app to India, so too is Starbucks bringing India to the rest of the world, offering a single-origin premium Indian coffee built around Coorg-region beans at its Seattle Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. There’s no word on if that will expand, though hopefully once it does well in Seattle, it will do well elsewhere.

It is kind of a surprise that it took this long, especially given how much of a foothold mobile payments systems already have in India. Given the events of the last few months, though, it might have been a good idea to stay out of that fray; imagine the negative press of “Indian Family Puts Entire Life Savings in Starbucks App.”

By letting the worst of the cash ban slip into the memory hole of history—reports suggest it’s already starting to improve—Starbucks can launch into a comparatively normal environment.

Still, better late than never, as the saying goes; there will likely be enough Starbucks fans in India that the timing won’t matter near so much.