• Kroger last week "announced the launch of a contactless payments pilot across the QFC division, located in Seattle, Wash., allowing customers to use their mobile device for a more seamless checkout experience. The pilot includes the acceptance of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, mobile banking apps and contactless chip cards, underpinned by near-field communication (NFC) technology … The QFC pilot supports the more than 30 policy and process changes Kroger has implemented since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote social distancing and safeguard associates, customers and communities."
• From the Washington Business Journal:
"Amazon is inching ever closer to opening two cashier-less grocery stores in the D.C. area. We know this - though Amazon still won't acknowledge as much - because it’s hiring for them.
The e-commerce giant has posted several openings related to Amazon Go Grocery stores in Greater Washington. While most are for work inside the stores, others suggest Amazon is looking to expand its physical retail footprint beyond what is already known.
"Two of the jobs are for store managers and two more are for associate managers. The new hires would be pioneers in the region, as Amazon has yet to open any of these stores in the area, not even the smaller Amazon Go convenience stores with dozens of locations across the country."
• Variety reports that "Amazon is sunsetting the Twitch Prime name - relaunching it as Prime Gaming, which will continue to be available for no extra cost to all of the company’s more than 150 million Prime members worldwide … By moving it outside the Twitch umbrella with the rebranding strategy, the ecommerce giant hopes to broaden awareness of the perk, which offers a bucket of free game titles and exclusive in-game content each month."
• The New York Times reports on pushback from both professional and amateur astronomers against approvals given recently to Amazon for the launch of 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit. The satellites, referred to as the Project Kuiper constellation, are designed to enable high-speed internet in remote and under-served communities.
Astronomers, the story says, are concerned that the satellites - which more than double the number of active satellites currently orbiting the earth - because they can negatively impact the images and data collected for research. In addition, the story says, there is no regulating authority establishing best practices and standards for the various companies getting into the low-Earth satellite business.
Michele Bannister, a planetary astronomer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, puts it this way: “We don’t have an industry body that’s producing good corporate citizenship on the part of all of these enthusiastic companies that want to launch, and we don’t have any regulatory setup in place that’s providing clear guidelines back to the industry … To me, honestly, it feels like putting a bunch of planes up and then not having air traffic control.”