Starbucks ponders blockchain payments, digital currency

Posted: 27 February 2018 12:00 pm
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The coffee chain is testing cashless transactions and eyeing a mobile integrated digital payments system.

Popular American coffeehouse chain Starbucks is mulling the idea of utilizing innovative blockchain technology to process future payments, as well as the possibility of developing its own native digital currency.

During an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo this week, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz revealed that almost half of the company’s US customer transactions are paid via smartphones.

Starbucks, which has over 27,000 locations worldwide, is also testing a cashless store in the United States. In China, around 70% of the coffee shop’s business is already cashless.

“I think it’s safe to say that over the next couple of years, many of our stores across the country will be cashless,” Schultz said.

Although Schultz is not an advocate for cryptocurrency bitcoin, the former Square board of directors executive has previously said that any working digital currency would have to be utilized by bricks-and-mortar stores.

“Given the framework and the platform that we have in our digital mobile app, we could potentially be one of the first companies to have a proprietary digital currency integrated into our application,” Schultz said.

These comments suggest that the company could be examining a mobile integrated digital payments system.

Adding fuel to the fire, Schultz asserted that “blockchain technology is probably the rails in which an integrated app at Starbucks will be sitting on top of”. The logical next step would be to create a unique digital token.

Check out Fox Business’ interview with Howard Schultz below.

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Earlier this month, the renowned coffee mecca added a jolt of caffeine to its customer rewards program when it launched the new Starbucks Rewards Visa Card. With the rewards card, every purchase made wherever Visa is accepted helps users earn more Stars, the point system redeemable for Starbucks food and beverages.

Bank of America has expressed its concerns over the costs and risks associated with increased competition it faces from cryptocurrencies and the various businesses, exchanges and technologies that support them.

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