Starbucks teams up with Japanese clothing brand to create new contactless payment system

By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

Global coffeehouse chain Starbucks has a huge fanbase of dedicated customers in Japan. They can’t get enough of the limited-edition beverages on offer, and when it comes to merchandise, customers here have been known to wipe the shelves clean of Japanese-exclusive drinkware and goods as soon as they appear in-store.

Now there’s another limited-edition exclusive that Starbucks lovers are scrambling to get their hands on, and this time it comes in the form of a small leather keychain. Called “STARBUCKS TOUCH The Drip“, the keychain incorporates a special chip that allows users to pay for purchases by simply touching the leather surface on the contactless payment reader in-store.

To see how the system works, and the cool types who use it, check out the promotional video below.

The new keychain works the same way as the touch-and-pay system involving pre-bought Starbucks cards and top-up “mobile cards” on smartphones, which are currently used in conjunction with the existing electronic readers. Having a stylish keychain at the ready to pay for your coffee, though, is an effortlessly chic way to handle your daily coffee run.

The company behind the keychain’s design is Japanese clothing brand Beams, which has been providing the street-culture obsessed youth of Tokyo with trendy threads since it was established in the city’s hip Harajuku district 40 years ago. With offices now in New York, London, Paris, and Milan, Beams knows how to appeal to the fashionable desires of customers, and with the new Starbucks-branded keychain, they’ve created a good-looking accessory that takes its inspiration from the coffees served at the well-known chain.

Each keychain is crafted in the shape of a coffee drop, just like the ones you’d find in the making of a drip coffee. The colour palette has also been carefully thought out, with green and orange representing the corporate colours of Starbucks and Beams respectively, while black symbolises coffee, white symbolises milk, and brown recalls the image of a freshly made latte.

The keychains retail for 4,240 yen each, which includes a base price of 3,000 yen plus a balance of 1,000 yen, both excluding tax. The items have been so popular they’ve already sold out online, but some are still available to purchase at the Beams store in Harajuku and the following seven Starbucks outlets in and around the Omotesando and Harajuku areas of Tokyo: Omotesando B-SIDE; Kitasando; Yoyogi; Meiji Jingu-mae Metropia; Jingumae 6-chome; Omotesando Jingumae 4-chome; Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku.

Source: Starbucks

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Starbucks comes to Tottori, local coffee chain’s poster compares it to Perry arriving in Japan -- Limited edition ANA Starbucks bottles are available over Japan, but not in it -- Starbucks puddings arrive in Japan with cute packaging and gorgeous flavours 【Taste Test】

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Just a marketing gimmick, my suica card works fine for me when I don't want to fish cash out of my wallet

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If it's just the leather 'drip' part (with ring), it seems to be a key 'fob' rather than a key 'chain'...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great marketing for SB, and a surefire hit with the JK demographic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As a financially tight American ex-pat from Seattle, I'll let those young hip Japanese spend their 4200 yen on a fashion accessory that provides no function greater than a suica etc card. Starbucks has always seemed to be a very well managed company.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think Starbucks accepts suica cards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh please not again. The starbucks card they have now for example, is utterly useless. You have to pay at the register to charge your card to use it, which beats the bloody purpose. Anyway SB is ridiculously overpriced.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I was never a big fan of Starbucks before Japan, but I support their idea of enjoying a coffee in a smoke-free place, even though I find it very overpriced.

It would be nice if they started accepting Nanaco and JCB debit cards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

here we go again, we get people saying "SB is over-priced" etc etc - Look if you dont want to drink there then go somewhere else. Do you remember what it was like before they came to Japan ??? Small dirty cafes with smokers - totally disgusting....

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Based on that video, I am hardly cool enough for this key fob. I'll leave it to the hipsters to keep the economy going.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Great. Another contactless payment system. Japan is sorely missing a universal payment system where you can pay electronically everywhere through your bank's issued card. New Zealand, for example, has been more or less cash-free for about 20 years now. Japan is really lagging in this area.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I prefer to use the smartphone app. Can charge it anytime with a credit card unlike the card which has to be charged with cash in-store

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Forget this... what I could respect instead is seeing current payment systems used in Starbucks, for example, being 'unviersal' (ie. where there are starbucks). Have a Starbucks card machine readable in all countries (and have all countries by machines) and deduct the amount based on the exchange rate of the currency you charged to the card (or app). I know that would mean "Starbucks Japan Inc." would have to team up with other nations', something Japanese chains of companies won't often do (and not saying they're alone), but come on... make something convenient.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I really wish Starbucks accepted payment with a Suica reader. It is a pain to have to dig out my wallet for them. That said, I am forever grateful for their business decision early on to go 100% nonsmoking. As this article says, "dedicated customers in Japan. They can’t get enough..." What they cannot get enough of is NONSMOKING. Please, Japan, follow their very successful lead. So many of us are waiting to patronize places where we do not risk cancer alongside our drinks and chow.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Patricia: "I really wish Starbucks accepted payment with a Suica reader."

That's kind of what I'm talking about -- A Suica reader would only help those in the Kanto region with Suica cards. All Lawsons and 7-11 chains across the nation have signs that read "Suica Apply Pay readers", but you can't buy Suica cards outside of Kanto because the different branches of the JR parent company don't work together (same as power companies, etc.). Point is that there should be a reader that will accept a card at ALL Starbucks, including overseas, and is compatible with the app or other Starbucks cards. This is just going to be one more card that you have to hold onto for one specific shop (chain). Instead, now there will be two or three different kinds of cards for the same shop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good job SB marketing team for coming up with this idea, this is a good idea in Japanese market. We Japanese who go to SB are the kind of people who prefer that small leather think than a plastic card. It may sound odd but that's who we are and SB marketing team somehow got that subtle reality in the market. Nice move to differentiate themselves from Doutor and other coffee shops. Good work.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Beams sells rubbish fashion and SB sells awful coffee. Makes me wonder what people are thinking when they buy the coffee or wear the clothes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapan...I take your point. As I live in Tokyo, Suica is my point of reference. Really do not understand Starb's marketing point on not accepting cash cards of any kind. The lines can be long enough as it is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


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