Ryan Williams
Jeremy Julian

Starbucks & Cryptocurrency?

November 21, 2018

Consumers may soon be able to pay for a Starbucks latte with bitcoin.

 

The coffee giant announced that it will work in partnership with bitcoin exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange Inc. as it forms a new company to “create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.”

 

The new company, called Bakkt, will employ Microsoft cloud-based solutions to fashion a “global ecosystem” for digital currency, Starbucks officials said.

 

“As the flagship retailer, Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks,” said Maria Smith, vice president of partnerships and payments for Starbucks, said in a statement. “As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”

 

Further operational details about Bakkt will be announced in coming weeks, according to Starbucks, with a planned launch of the company slated for November.

 

Cryptocurrency skeptics have challenged its use for payments because of its volatility. Bitcoin for example, has dropped by roughly 50 percent this year, and its value often changes by hundreds of dollars in a single day.

 

But with Starbucks taking cryptocurrency seriously, it could help bitcoin break through as a mainstream currency. It could also be bullish for prices, which have struggled to find footing since the end of 2017.

 

“It’s very big news for bitcoin because people say, ‘Where can you spend it?’ Now at every single Starbucks,” said Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of BKCM. “Starbucks is seeing some kind of demand for acceptance of crypto and bitcoin, and to tie up with a huge regulated institution like the ICE is really positive for the space.”

 

Starbucks would not be the first retailer to accept digital assets. Overstock.com was the first to accept bitcoin in 2014. Expedia, Shopify and CheapAir have also said they accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

 

Will Bitcoins be accepted in restaurants? That future remains to be seen, but it would be advantageous to have a plan in place just in case.

 

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