The surprising company beating Apple and Google in mobile payments

“Cash or app?”
“Cash or app?”
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Tech giants Google, Apple, and Samsung are racing to become the mobile-payment platform of choice worldwide. But for now, the king of the category is a coffee company: Starbucks.

More than 23.4 million people will open the Starbucks app to pay for their coffee or tea at least once every six months in 2018, according to eMarketer, which just edges out Apple Pay’s 22 million biannual users. Google Pay trails in third place, with 11.1 million people using the service to pay once every six months.

eMarketer expects this trend to continue, based on Starbucks’ popularity and the lukewarm reception to Apple and Google Pay, according to Axios.

The “once every six months” bar isn’t very hard to clear, especially since Starbucks gift cards are easily loaded onto the coffee chain’s mobile app and make up one-third of all Starbucks purchases in the US and Canada. The eMarketer report also doesn’t mention how much people are spending using each payment platform, meaning it’s difficult to decipher the true value of these apps.