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Starbucks lets customers send coffee to friends through iMessage

Alex Spencer

Starbucks has added the ability to send digital gift cards to friends direct via Apple's iMessage service.

The gift cards can be paid for through Apple Pay, which is also used to redeem the gift card – the idea being to remove as many steps as possible from the process.

"Over the years, giving and receiving Starbucks’ gift card has become iconic. They’re given for birthdays, holidays, thank you, business events or just because. Traditionally, our customers have purchased gift cards from our stores and other retailers, and now customers can also purchase them digitally in our app or web site. But what if we like gifting occur in other channels? What about social channels? The virtual places for you engage with your friends, your colleagues and loved ones every single day," said Starbucks CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger on an earnings call last month,.

Martin-Flickinger made it clear that this wasn't the end of Starbucks' plans to expand its gift card offering, saying:"We have many more social gifting solutions coming, all with the intent of making gift giving and receiving even easier for our customers." She also emphasised that these plans "are not just US-centric; we're driving towards these types of solutions all around the world".

The feature comes as part of the 4.3.4 update to the coffee chain's iOS app, which also adds an option to filter its store locator to only show locations selling its new Nitro cold brew, a minor redesign for the app's order and pay service, and tweaks to push notifications.

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