Yes, Starbucks is getting into crypto—just not at the cash register. At least not yet.
The coffee retailer on Friday announced Bakkt (pronounced “backed”), a joint venture with the Intercontinental Stock Exchange (NYSE’s parent), BCG, and Microsoft, among others. The new company aims to create a “seamless global network” for spending digital assets such as bitcoin. Starbucks’ payments VP said the company would play “a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks.”
On Saturday, Starbucks corrected the record. “It is important to clarify that we are not accepting digital assets at Starbucks,” a spokesman told Motherboard. “Rather the exchange will convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars, which can be used at Starbucks.” They added, succinctly: “Customers will not be able to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin.”
To be sure, Starbucks’ announcement does signal a major interest into the nascent crypto industry, and retail payments will be part of that. Already, the company is beating out Apple Pay and Google Pay when it comes to frequent users of its mobile payment app. Per Fortune:
The founding imperative for Bakkt will be to make Bitcoin a sound and secure offering for key constituents that now mostly shun it—the world’s big financial institutions. The goal is to clear the way for major money managers to offer Bitcoin mutual funds, pension funds, and ETFs, as highly regulated, mainstream investments.
The next step after that could be using Bitcoin to replace your credit card.
So crypto for croissants may very well be in Starbucks’ future. For now though, regular bucks/coins/cards/Mobile Pay only please.