Talk about strange bedfellows. In what we see as nothing less than a very surprising coup given Starbucks’ pattern of solitary forays into new payment acceptance waters, JPMorgan Chase has struck a deal with the coffee chain under whose terms its Chase Pay mobile wallet will be incorporated into the Starbucks mobile app effective this fall.
The deal could mean big usage potential for Chase Pay, as the Starbucks app is used not only for payments at more than 7,500 locations, but even more significantly,to complete over 10 percent of in-store sales made at Starbucks’ U.S. locations. Consumers will be able to leverage Chase Pay to reload their Starbucks payment cards, doing so within the mobile app or on the Starbucks website. Interestingly, the Starbucks app supports Apple Pay as a card-funding method, too–even though the latter can be seen as a potential competitor with Starbucks’ proprietary mobile payment system.
While Starbucks undoubtedly consented to the deal because costs will fall on JP Morgan Chase’s shoulders and no interchange will be paid out,the already-strong relationship between the two camps should also bode well for Chase Pay where its incorporation into the coffee chain’s mobile app is concerned. Not long ago, Starbucks opted to tap Chase as its processor for non-mobile payments, replacing Square, which previously served in that capacity. And back in 2003, the two companies together launched a co-branded Visa credit card called Duetto. While Duetto no longer exists, it had a seven-year run before it was shut down in 2010.
“We are really excited to be able to partner with Starbucks,” Gordon Smith, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO of consumer and community banking, told attendees during the bank’s 2016 Investor Day presentation on February 23. “We’ve had a long relationship with them, and it is a terrific company.
Moreover, JPMorgan Chase obviously perceives integration as a viable strategy for moving its payment products to the forefront, having announced last October that it had entered into a deal with the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) to offer its Chase QuickPay person-to-person payment service within MCX’s CurrentC mobile wallet. The latter remains in a testing phase. When it is finally launched—supposedly, this year—the wallet will be linked to 94 million credit, debit, and prepaid Chase card accounts.
JPMorgan’s move to “embed” Chase QuickPay inside CurrentC is significant in that, like the deal with Starbucks, it represents thinking outside the box. It’s unusual to see a financial institution and a merchant cooperating on a mobile wallet venture, rather than fighting each other over payment card fees.
Could there be more deals like this somewhere in the offing? Never say never. Stranger things have happened.