Bird, the electric scooter company, is testing a new in-app purchase capability called Bird Pay. It’s a move that’s meant to appease local business owners plagued by hoards of scooters dumped in front of their stores. The idea is to somehow coax more Bird riders into shops where they can buy chips and soda at the beginning or end of their rides. According to Bird, 58 percent of Bird rides either start or finish in front of local businesses.
Here’s how Bird Pay cashless payments work:
- Open the Bird app and hit Ride, as though you were about to rent a nearby scooter
- However, instead of scanning a scooter’s QR code, you scan the shop’s code
- Enter the amount
- Swipe up to pay using payment information already shared with Bird
“Store owners in the community often tell me, ‘Birds outside bring business inside,’” said Bird CEO and founder Travis VanderZanden in a written statement. “This phenomenon paired with our commitment to community resulted in Bird Pay which helps drive even more customers to local businesses.”
That’s a noble cause that could help reduce company complaints, but there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for riders to enter the store and use the Bird Pay app. Bird Pay doesn’t sound any easier to use than Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay, especially in shops with contactless readers. Riders would surely be incentivized to enter local businesses and pay with Bird Pay if the app offered discounts, but none are mentioned by Bird in the announcement.
Businesses that sign up for Bird Pay are promised “lower fees” and visibility inside the Bird app for nearby riders to discover.
Still it’s early days. Bird Pay is currently in limited testing with select local businesses in Bird’s home of Santa Monica and throughout the Los Angeles area.
Update February 25th, 8:18AM ET: Added additional details about business incentives.