Dunkin' Donuts Returns Starbucks' Mobile-Wallet Volley

By Green, Jeffrey | American Banker, August 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Dunkin' Donuts Returns Starbucks' Mobile-Wallet Volley


Green, Jeffrey, American Banker


Byline: Jeffrey Green

Dunkin' Donuts likes to brag that its coffee beats Starbucks in a national taste test. Now it aims to beat its rival in mobile payments as well.

Dunkin' Donuts yesterday launched its own mobile-payment application, hot on the heels of news that rival Starbucks Corp. is working with Square Inc. to improve the coffee chain's already successful mobile payment app.

Dunkin' Donuts, a unit of Dunkin' Brands Inc., argues that its app already has a bit more flavor.

"With our new option for mobile payment, we're creating an entirely new level of speed and convenience that will further distinguish our brand to current and new customers," Scott Hudler, Dunkin' Brands vice president of global consumer engagement, said in an email.

Unlike Starbucks, Dunkin' allows customers to buy virtual gift cards for one another within the application (Starbucks' app allows users to buy digital cards for themselves, but they cannot gift those accounts). Dunkin' can deliver its virtual cards via text, email or Facebook Connect in denominations between $2 and $100.

CorFire, a U.S. subsidiary of SK C&C of South Korea, is providing the technology to support the mobile initiative.

"What we do is make the [gift card giving] mobile to mobile," Jon Squire, CorFire's chief marketing officer, said in an interview. "[The value] automatically loads into the mobile wallet."

Yesterday's launch is just the beginning of multiple mobile-based initiatives Dunkin Donuts has planned over the next four years. Dunkin's next step is to integrate its loyalty program, Hudler says.

"They're definitely looking at all the efficiencies mobile brings, but where they land is up to Dunkin' to reveal," Squire says.

Starbucks made a name for itself in mobile payments even before it revealed its pact with Square. The company completed a nationwide rollout of its closed-loop mobile payment system while many banks and payments companies were still limited to regional tests.

Starbucks also veered from the script that many in the payments industry followed. It embraced bar codes when many companies were designing systems around Near Field Communication chips. And when its rivals developed solely for Apple Inc. iPhones and Google Inc. Android smartphones, Starbucks gave early attention to Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry handsets, which it realized were popular among the office workers that frequent its stores. …

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