From US To China, Starbuck Confirms Plans To Accept Bitcoin
Barely a day after it confirmed a deal with Alibaba to expand delivery services throughout China, Starbucks has yet announced it is working with Microsoft and a leading global exchange on a new digital platform that will allow consumers to use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at its stores worldwide.
Starbucks will leverage all of Alibaba’s properties such as Alipay, Taobao, Tmall and food delivery platform Ele.me to make deliveries from 150 stores in Shanghai and Beijing and then broaden delivery to 2,000 stores in 30 cities. With Alibaba’s supermarket chain, Hema, the retailer plans to build up to 600 stations for service delivery orders.
With the new development, it is working with Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Microsoft and BCG, among others, to launch Bakkt – an integrated platform designed to enable consumers and institutions to seamlessly buy, sell, store and spend digital assets. The Bakkt ecosystem is expected to include federally regulated markets and warehousing along with merchant and consumer applications, according to a statement by ICE, a Fortune 500 and Fortune Future 50 company that operates global exchanges, clearing houses, data and listings services. It seeks to develop open technology that will connect existing market and merchant infrastructure to the blockchain with its first use cases being for trading and converting Bitcoin to fiat currencies to meet the evolving needs in the estimated $270 billion digital asset marketplace.
Currently in preparation for launch with further operational details set to be announced later, ICE’s U.S.-based futures exchange and clearing house plan to launch a 1-day physically delivered Bitcoin contract along with physical warehousing in November 2018 as an initial component of the Bakkt offering. According to ICE, this is subject to the review and approval of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission which regulates futures and option markets. Bakkt will enable consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend cryptocurrencies on the network and building confidence in the asset class on a global scale.
For Starbucks, the platform will convert Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into U.S. dollars that can be used to buy a Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew, Matcha Lemonade or anything else at its stores which reportedly serve about 60 million customers weekly all over the world. Choosing to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment later in the year confers some form of legitimacy on the cryptocurrency which would go a long way to address public perception of the currency.
Starbuck’s Vice President, Partnerships and Payments, Maria Smith states: “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 US dollars for use at Starbucks. 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.”
Other investors in Bakkt are to include an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures, Alan Howard, Pantera Capital, Protocol Ventures, and Susquehanna International Group, LLP.
Olusegun Ogundeji writes on tech-related issues including from the crypto/Blockchain space.
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