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Kevin Johnson, Starbucks chief executive officer, speaks at the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders at McCaw Hall in Seattle on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson, Starbucks)

The most popular mobile payments platform is not built by Google, Apple, or Samsung.

It’s actually Starbucks, according to new data from eMarketer.

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The firm reported 20.7 million U.S. users of Starbucks’ mobile payment app (age 14 and up, with at least one purchase in past six months), compared to 19.9 million on Apple Pay, 9.3 million on Google Pay, and 8.4 million on Samsung Pay.

eMarketer expects those numbers to grow at the same clip over the next four years, with Starbucks maintaining its lead as the most popular mobile payments platform.

Starbucks’ app lets customers make purchases and earn rewards. The company’s rewards program grew by 11 percent last quarter to 14.2 million active U.S. members (includes those who have been active in the last 90 days).

It also enables the mobile order-ahead feature, which was originally only available to rewards members but recently opened up to anyone. Mobile order-ahead program represented 12 percent of U.S. company-operated store transactions last quarter; that’s up from 11 percent the previous quarter.

“The Starbucks app is one of the bigger success stories in mobile proximity payments,” eMarketer Forecasting Analyst Cindy Liu said in a statement. “It has gained traction thanks to its ability to tie payments to its loyalty rewards program. For users of the app, the value of paying with their smartphone is clear and simple — you can save
time and money at the register, all while racking up rewards and special offers.”

The company says 75 million customers visit its stores every month. About 15 million of those are members of the Starbucks Rewards program, and the company has increasingly been using technology to personalize its interactions with them.

Earlier this year, Starbucks began asking customers to provide their email address before connecting to in-store WiFi as another way to reach non-Rewards members digitally.

eMarketer also reported that there will be 55 million U.S. mobile payment users in 2018, up 14.5 percent. It also expects more retailers to come out with their own payment apps, causing shares of the large tech giants to potentially drop.

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