Adding to the list of changes Starbucks is currently making to its stores, the coffee chain announced it's expanding its Starbucks Card Mobile payment test to nearly 300 company-owned stores in New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

For the past year, Starbucks tested the payment option - using the newly-launched Starbucks Card Mobile app - in 16 Seattle and Northern California locations along with 1,000 Starbucks in U.S. Target stores.

The app, available for a variety of BlackBerry smartphones, the iPhone, and the iPod Touch, will soon give New York area coffee fans the ability to pay for their purchases more quickly and without the need for an actual Starbucks card.

"Mobile technology is part of our customers' daily routine and with the expansion of mobile payment in our test cities, we're seeing more and more customers using their smartphones as their mobile wallets," said Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Loyalty.

Brewer said Starbucks is responding to consumer demand for a faster, more convenient way to pay at the register.

The virtual Starbucks card works a lot like the plastic version; once downloading the free Starbucks Card Mobile App and setting up an account, a barcode will come up on the phone or iPod's screen that can be scanned on a special 2-D scanner at the register. The amount is automatically taken from the "card."

Consumers will also be able use the app to reload their card balance using a major credit card, check their My Starbucks Reward status, and find the closest Starbucks to them.

Currently almost one in five of all in-store transactions are paid for with a Starbucks Card and customers are on track to load more than $1 billion on Starbucks Cards this year. At the end of the third quarter, sales of Starbucks Cards were up 17% over last year and the reload on existing cards was up more than 59% percent compared to last year.

Starbucks hopes the new mobile payment system will appeal to these consumers by making card transactions even faster.

"With the expansion of mobile payment to New York City, we expect to see more and more customers trading their plastic Starbucks Cards for the digital version on their mobile phone," said Brewer.

iPhone and iPod touch users can download the app from the Apple App Store. BlackBerry smartphone users can text the word "GO" to 70845 or visit the Starbucks website from their device and download the app there.