Mobile Payment At U.S. Starbucks Locations Crosses 10% As More Stores Get Wireless Charging

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Starbucks is seeing impressive adoption of mobile payments in its U.S.-based store locations, the company revealed during its quarterly earnings conference call last night (via WSJ). Mobile payments crossed the 10 percent mark in the U.S. as a percentage of in-store purchases, indicating efforts like the Starbucks mobile app, Apple’s Passbook and Square Wallet are popular among users.

The coffee franchise is pushing forward with more mobile-focused initiatives, including the installation of wireless charging mats in select locations. The Powermat-supplied wireless charging initiative follows a trial of 17 locations in Boston, and will roll-out in Silicon Valley throughout August. The standard it uses is the Power Matters Alliance variety, which unfortunately doesn’t work with phones that use the Qi standard like the Google Nexus 4. Still, a growing number of companies are joining up with PMA’s standard, and Starbucks’s continued support should help it appear in more devices.

The lesson here is that Starbucks is putting a lot of weight behind its mobile digital initiatives, and those efforts are bearing fruit. Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said on the call that its “various digital initiatives have added demonstrable impact to our U.S. business in the third quarter” and promises to do even more for the company with continued investment.

Pay-by-app in this way kind of defies what many thought about mobile payments in the early days, that it would be enabled by one dominant provider and come in the form of a single wallet provided by a single ruling platform creator, and that it would be enabled by NFC or something similar. The Starbucks method involves a variety of different payment options and uses traditional barcode scanning to function, and yet it’s very popular. This seems to be because it’s convenient, easy to find and carries familiar branding from multiple trusted sources.

While we still mostly pay with traditional methods, the Starbucks example is a good illustration of how mobile-enabled commerce can work if the conditions are right and the source in question has the clout to push it through. But the Starbucks model is an island, which means we could see continued growth in mobile payments on a case-by-case basis instead of as a sweeping trend that trounces cards and currency in one tidal push.

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Samsung Galaxy S III to support wireless charging from 1-2 meters away?

Samsung’s 3rd generation Galaxy device, aptly named the Galaxy S III, has caused quite a stir since its predecessor was released last year. That said, this particular handset hasn’t even been announced officially by Sammy but that certainly hasn’t stopped the rumors from flowing. This time around, we’re hearing that the Galaxy S III may ship with wireless charging as the standard practice of getting juice into the phone.

While wireless charging may still seem like a novelty of sorts today, the technology has been around long enough and we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it end up in the next-gen Galaxy S device. Sure, a handful of phones can get their wireless charge on by getting a replacement rear backing, but like the late Palm Pre, we know that it’s never been a must-have feature. We doubt that the Galaxy S III will change the game by using a technology that’s been around but we doubt that there will be many complaints about adding the option.

What’s interesting about the possibility of the handset to support wireless charging is that it may not actually need to stay attached to the charging station and could charge your phone from 2 meters away. Now that is a feature that would get some attention. Being able to charge your phone without having it attached to a wire or sitting on a charging station – but instead just sitting next to you on your desk. We could definitely get used to that.

We can add wireless charging to the list of impressive specifications the Galaxy S III is said to have. So far, we’re expecting to see the handset rock a 4.8 inch Super AMOLED HD display,quad-core Exynos processor with LTE support out of the box, 12 megapixel camera, and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, all wrapped up in a ceramic casing.

We’re still a couple of months away from the official unveiling of the device and we certainly hope that all the rumors we’ve heard so far will be packed into this highly anticipated handset.