Starbucks offers $5 to customers sending gifts via iMessage app

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Starbucks has launched a promotion to try and encourage its customers in the United States to use its new iMessage app, with the coffee chain providing app users who send a digital gift card to their friends with a free $5 gift card of their own.

Launched this month, the Starbucks Gifts iMessage app is used to provide gift cards to a user's contacts through iMessage itself. The gift cards are paid for via the sender's Apple Pay account, with the recipient then able to use the eGift card from their iPhone to pay for coffee and other goods.

Under the promotional terms, customers in the U.S. have to use the iMessage app to send a gift card of at least $5 in order to receive their own $5 gift card. Limited to one $5 gift card per person, the offer will run until April 23 or until 45,000 cards have been redeemed.

Users need to install the Starbucks Gifts app in order to send the gift cards, which is included as part of the main Starbucks app, though other users can access it via the iMessage store. An Apple Pay account is also required in order to buy and redeem the gift cards.

Starbucks first announced plans to offer an iMessage app for gift cards during its annual shareholders' meeting in March. Starbucks Gifts is the company's second major foray with iMessage, following after the coffee brand's official sticker pack.

The firm has been a close partner to Apple, supporting Apple Pay in stores and within its apps, and has previously provided free iTunes and App Store downloads to its customers.

Starbucks has also worked on providing new features to its iOS apps, such as the "My Starbucks" virtual barista it launched in January. Providing the ability to place orders via voice and messaging instead of using the app's menu system, the feature is currently limited to about 100,000 users, but the company intends to expand its reach to more customers in the future.


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