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Starbucks, KFC, and Chili's Hop Aboard the Apple Pay Train

In 2016, all three chains will accept Apple's virtual wallet application.

Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

IPhone owners will soon be able to pay for their Starbucks, Chili's, and KFC orders without having to break out their wallets. According to Re/Code, the three chains will start accepting Apple Pay — Apple's virtual wallet application — at all locations in 2016. The service, which launched last year, stores a user's credit card information in their phones and allows them to pay for items by holding their iPhone (or Apple Watch) up to a special credit card reader. Other larger chains like Subway and McDonald's already accept Apple's proprietary application.

Starbucks, which is one of a handful of large companies that shunned Apple Pay when it first launched, integrated the technology into its iOS app in February. The coffee giant released an update for its app that gave customers the option of reloading their Starbucks Cards using Apple Pay. Now, the chain will accept Apple Pay at its registers as well. The New York Times writes that some Starbucks locations are part of a pilot program that will start accepting Apple Pay this year, before it rolls out nationally. Eater has reached out to Starbucks for more information regarding the pilot program.

A spokesperson for Starbucks reveals to the NYT that the chain has been "accepting Apple Pay in the U.K. for the past few months" where it has been "received well by customers." While being able to pay with a phone is convenient, Starbucks' app already has a feature that allows customers to order and pay for their Pumpkin Spice Lattes ahead of time with their mobile devices (and avoid the line in stores when they go to pick it up).

However, KFC and Chili's do not offer order and pay ahead services yet. Jennifer Bailey, the Vice President of Apple Pay, noted at the Code Mobile conference yesterday that the application could help speed up service times at KFC. "We're seeing a lot of support for quick-service restaurants with a need for fast payment." Bailey adds that in the future, sit-down restaurants like Chili's "might let customers order from the menu and pay via their phones, which could remove the need for some servers." A Chili's spokesperson tells the NYT Apple Pay is the "first mobile payment system that the chain has adopted." Eater has reached out to KFC for more information about the company's plans to roll out the new technology.

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