Costa Coffee’s New Travel Mug a Mobile Payments Platform

December 3, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve seen some unusual mobile payments mechanisms before; I’m reminded here of the time that Pizza Hut put a way to order pizza in shoes. This latest one, however, might be the strangest and at the same time most straightforward notion yet. At Costa Coffee, you can now pay for your coffee just by waving your mug at a payment terminal.

As the result of a partnership between Costa Coffee and Barclaycard, customers will have access to a travel mug that has a payment chip built into it. In so doing, customers can effectively bring their travel mug in for a refill, then wave the mug at a payment terminal to have the payment chip kick in and act like a credit card that isn’t in the room.

It’s not just about an easier way to pay for coffee, either; it also serves as a way to underscore Costa Coffee’s principle of recycling disposable cups. The travel mug is designed to be reused, which takes the cups out of circulation altogether while giving customers a valuable new way to buy their coffee.

With mobile commerce set to outpace e-commerce by the end of 2019—that’s the word from 451 Research—having a system like this in place could be extremely useful. Mobile contactless payments are set to clear $1 trillion this year worldwide, making it clear there’s a market.

While Pizza Hut’s idea about shoe-based mobile payments might best have been described as ludicrous, Costa Coffee’s idea makes a lot of sense. A travel mug is the kind of thing people have on hand anyway, so why not link it to a payment mechanism, like a credit card, debit card, or even a bank account? Make it possible to pay for drinks even when you’ve forgotten your wallet at home for any of a hundred reasons. You have the mug on hand anyway, so why not use it as a contactless payment vector?

Throw in the environmental impact, the press benefits to be had therein, and of course the cost savings of not having to buy those cups in the first place and you’ve got a recipe for a real corporate win. All this is thanks to mobile payments, and the fact that they can be built into just about anything.