TECHNOLOGY

Starbucks jumps on cryptocurrency bandwagon

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A coffee giant’s new platform could help Bitcoin break through as a mainstream currency.

Starbucks Corp. is teaming up with Microsoft and global exchange company International Exchange to create an integrated platform that would enable customers to pay for orders with cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. International Exchange is launching a new company, called Bakkt. Leveraging Microsoft cloud solutions, this global network will enable consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend cryptocurrencies.

Starbucks plans to use the platform as an option for customers to convert their bitcoin into U.S. dollars, then digitally pay for purchases.

“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,” said Maria Smith, VP, partnerships and payments for 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.”

Starbucks did not reveal when it would begin converting the cryptocurrency. Additional details on the launch will be announced in the coming weeks, according to International Exchange.

Starbucks is not the first retailer to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Overstock started accepting Bitcoin in 2014. In January 2015, the retailer installed a Bitcoin ATM at its corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City. The ATM allows the public to convert U.S. dollars to Bitcoin, and Bitcoin to U.S. dollars.

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