Starbucks has surprised the media and consumers with their recent team up. The coffee giant is pairing up with Microsoft on a new digital platform that will help convert cryptocurrency to real US dollars. This collaboration might have confused some mainstream media outlets; reports have been saying that Starbucks will be accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment. However, the partnership between the coffee chain and the software giant means that there might be a future possibility that cryptocurrency could be used by consumers to purchase drinks and food if the conversion into real dollars works.
“It’s very big news for bitcoin because people say, ‘Where can you spend it?’ Now at every single Starbucks. 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 [Intercontinental Exchange] is really positive for the space,” founder and CEO of BKCM, an investment management firm, Brian Kelly said.
Quotes such as that may have confused consumers and outlets further. Though Starbucks is taking this new venture into cryptocurrency, this doesn’t mean that consumers can currently walk into a Starbucks and pay with Bitcoin. Starbucks corrected the rumors on Saturday.
“It is important to clarify that we are not accepting digital assets at Starbucks. Rather the exchange will convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars, which can be used at Starbucks. At the current time, we are announcing the launch of trading and conversion of Bitcoin. However, we will continue to talk with customers and regulators as the space evolves,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Motherboard. “Customers will not be able to pay for Frappucinos with Bitcoin.”
The team up doesn’t just include those two companies. Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft, Starbucks, BCG and others are working together to launch a company called Bakkt. Bakkt will allow institutions and consumers to sell, buy, spend and store cryptocurrencies on the global network. This plan is expected to be done by November. On this platform, Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies will be converted into US dollars.
However, skeptics might not agree to this new platform or conversion tactic. For example, Bitcoin’s value can change by hundreds of dollars within a day. Optimists might say that with Starbucks taking Bitcoin and cryptocurrency seriously, they might start a trend to allow these to become mainstream currencies.
Though consumers can’t use Bitcoin at Starbucks, the idea of using cryptocurrency for retail isn’t new. Expedia, CheapAir and Shopify have all said they accept cryptocurrency. With the establishment of Bakkt and the ability to convert cryptocurrency into real currency, this type of payment might be more widely accepted across the US in the future.