Bitcoin (BTC)–Friday brought about a rather momentous announcement for the adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, when news broke that Starbucks is working on a collaboration to begin accepting crypto through a fiat intermediary. Called Bakkt, a global platform and ecosystem for digital assets, the exchange will allow for customers to trade crypto for fiat and participate in the purchase of items at Starbucks. While the company has since clarified that they will not be accepting Bitcoin directly, it does provide some level of validation for the industry in addition to giving the currency some much needed adoption-related exposure.
Bakkt Backed by Starbucks, Microsoft and More
Bakkt, the proposed exchange for simplifying the swap of BTC and fiat for market purposes, represents a collaboration between Starbucks, Microsoft and Intercontinental Exchange. Original articles ran with some misleading headlines that gave the appearance Starbucks was planning to outright accept Bitcoin for coffee. Instead, the company has made its intention clear that it wants to operate with cryptocurrency–albeit through the presence of a third party intermediary. The news comes as a somewhat lackluster advancement for most diehard cryptocurrency fans. Investors and members of the community have had numerous opportunities to work with payment platforms, BitPay being one of the more popular, which convert BTC to fiat for purchases. However, the intermediary step neglects one of the primary functions of crypto: that it can work fine as a secure, digital payment in its present form without the need of exchanging to government currencies.
Nonetheless, interest from Starbucks and Microsoft is positive news for advancing Bitcoin’s brand and growing greater merchant-based adoption. Brian Kelly, a regular contributor to CNBC’s crypto shows, found the move to be overwhelmingly positive,
“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 is really positive for the space.”
Starbucks also held to its position as an innovator, viewing cryptocurrencies and digital assets as a possible extension for the company to stay at the forefront of societal shifts. Maria Smith, vice president of partnerships and payments for Starbucks, said in the statement confirming Bakkt that,
“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.”
While expectations were tempered via the follow-up announcement by Starbucks, clarifying that the company had no intention to deal directly with cryptocurrency, it does provide an avenue for greater exposure that could lead to direct BTC payments. At the very least, it helps fill the primary argument against cryptocurrency: that despite being defined as digital money, Bitcoin and other currencies have failed in giving users adequate outlets for spending.