Verizon Stuffs Google Wallet, Starbucks Proclaims Itself the Mobile Payments Leader

Starbucks issued a press release this morning that proclaimed the company the "mobile payments leader," which is probably not incorrect. Here are some of the numbers exposed in the statement:

  • Mobile payments available at 9,000 US Starbucks locations (7K Starbucks, 1K Target stores, 1K Safeway locations)
  • 26 million mobile transactions at Starbucks to date
  • $2.4 billion in value loaded into various payment cards during 2011 (Starbucks payment cards are used for 25% of all US transactions)
  • $110.5 million reloaded onto Starbucks Cards directly through the mobile app

These are impressive numbers and Starbucks is likely doing more to popularize and educate people about mobile payments than any other entity in the US. The company plans to expand its apps/mobile payments program internationally as well.

In a related story, VentureBeat reported this morning that US carrier Verizon, the first to gain access to an Android 4.0 handset (Galaxy Nexus), is effectively blocking Google Wallet. The Galaxy Nexus is the second US Android handset to include NFC capability. The blog received a statement from a Google representative confirming that “Verizon asked [Google] not to include this functionality in the product."

The motivation for the carrier's move is obvious: it has a competing mobile wallet/payments offering in ISIS, a joint venture with AT&T and T-Mobile. It's not clear how much "outrage" this will generate among consumers, given that most have not tried mobile wallets and are conceptually ambivalent about them according to several surveys.

According to a Retrevo survey, carriers are less trusted than Google or Apple to provide mobile payments functionality:

Screen shot 2011-06-20 at 9.15.23 AM

I'm very skeptical that carriers will be able to provide a good and highly functional mobile payments experience. Google is in a much stronger position to do so than the carriers (in the US or internationally). I've got a note in to Google and will update this post if I'm able to talk to them.