In potentially big bitcoin news, Starbucks is involved in a project that could help cryptocurrency holders spend their digital coins: The coffee chain said it is among the companies that will work with Intercontinental Exchange’s planned digital asset company, dubbed Bakkt. The company will have “merchant and consumer applications” and plans to have bitcoin to fiat currency conversion as one of its first use cases, according to a press release posted on the Starbucks website.
“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,” Maria Smith, vice president, partnerships and payments for Starbucks, said in the announcement. “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.”
According to the announcement, the company “is currently in preparation for launch and further operational details will be announced in the coming weeks.”
The news comes as Israeli coffee shop chain Café Joe announced earlier this year that it would be accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at Café Joe USA locations. The payments will be powered by Coinbase Commerce, an integrated payment system by cryptocurrency exchange and storage platform Coinbase, which reportedly addresses the long transfer lines and high transaction fees to simplify crypto-based purchases.
Café Joe said in a statement the decision was not based on demand so much as it was based on an idea that bitcoin could attain usefulness in consumers’ everyday lives — a vision that Café Joe noted “has been an aspirational goal for many early adopters of cryptocurrencies.”
And a Southeast Asian cryptocurrency café went one step further: Launched in Indonesia and Singapore in December 2017, Ducatus Café does not accept cash, cards or even Apple Pay. Instead, transactions must be completed using either bitcoin or the café’s own digital currency, Ducatus. In part, the café was actually developed to give investors in Ducatus (launched January 2017) somewhere to spend the coins.