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Starbucks Brews Up Coffee Machines With Contactless Payment Technology

The coffee company is employing USA Technologies' RFID-based payment terminals in one-cup brewing machines designed for use in business offices.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 20, 2009Starbucks Coffee Co. is joining a number of firms turning to contactless technology to better serve their customers. The coffee company is adding cashless payment terminals from USA Technologies (USAT) to its branded, single-cup coffee-brewing machines designed for use in business offices.

"What we are offering to Starbucks is a very clean way for consumers to make their purchases," says Stephen Herbert, USAT's president and COO. "There's no need for coins, no need for bills. It is purely cashless."


The Starbucks Interactive Cup brewing machine will accept RFID-enabled payment cards, as well as magnetic-stripe cards.
Starbucks, which declined a request for an interview, is purchasing USAT's terminals and having them embedded in brewing machines manufactured by Cafection Enterprises. The terminals will accept both traditional magnetic-stripe payment cards and contactless payment cards complying with the ISO 14443 air-interface standard for tags operating at 13.56 MHz. Customers can use any currently available RFID-enabled debit or credit cards, including those featuring MasterCard's PayPass, Visa's PayWave, American Express' Express Pay and Discover Network's Zip contactless payment capability. RFID-enabled vending machines have sprouted up across the United States in recent years (see Philly to Get RFID-enabled Vending Machines) and Vending Machines Accept RFID Cards).

Initially, over the next few months, Starbucks plans to distribute approximately 500 of the machines, known as Starbucks Interactive Cup cashless brewers, to office coffee distributors and vending service companies throughout the United States and Canada. The machines contain the latest version of USAT's cashless terminals, the ePort G8, which was unveiled in late 2008 and made commercially available in January 2009. The ePort G8 includes a security protocol that fully encrypts account data as it is transmitted between a customer's payment card and the RFID interrogator built into the payment terminal.

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