Hardcore cryptocurrency enthusiasts have often dreamed about being able to buy their morning coffee with Bitcoin. Being able to do so, they say, would speak volumes about the digital currency’s mainstream adoption.
So, if a company of the size of Starbucks – which as of last year operated more than 28,000 locations across globe – were to suddenly begin accepting Bitcoin payments, it’s likely enthusiasts would rejoice.
Rumors about Starbucks’ potential adoption of Bitcoin payments have been floating around for some time but were heightened after The Block published an article yesterday about the chain’s equity deal with Bakkt, a cryptocurrency payments platform.
It described a deal which would “allow coffee-lovers to pay in-store” using special software from Bakkt, a firm Starbucks received equity in as part of its terms.
With this in mind, Hard Fork reached out to Starbucks to find out more, and a spokesperson for the brand said:
Our role as the flagship retailer for Bakkt is to consult and develop applications for customers to convert their digital assets into US dollars, which can then be used in our stores. We anticipate that a range of cryptocurrencies will gain traction with customers and, through our work with Bakkt, we will be uniquely positioned to constantly consider and offer customers new and unique ways to pay seamlessly, at Starbucks. As we continue to move forward with this work, we anticipate we’ll have more to share in the coming months.
So, this indicates cryptocurrency adopters would be proposed to use a third-party intermediary system to “make purchases” using Bitcoin. It also highlights the fact that Starbucks is not currently prepared to “risk” holding any digital assets directly.
It will, instead – and as expected – swap any cryptocurrency it receives for fiat, churning the funds back into the capitalist machine that most hardcore cryptocurrency enthusiasts vehemently oppose.
Put simply, Starbucks is “flagship retailer” for Bakkt, whose purpose is to let users and companies alike trade digital money and convert it into traditional money. Microsoft is involved, too.
Starbucks allowing consumers to convert their cryptocurrency into fiat is certainly not the same as Starbucks accepting payments in digital currency, but there is an argument to be made that Bitcoin could simply not manage even a small percentage of Starbucks business with real-time, on-chain transactions.
Alas, if you were hoping this would mean the beginning of something beautiful for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, think again. Under a more critical light, this is just a frustrating reminder that handling Bitcoin directly is still too taboo (and a little too “inefficient”) for the world’s biggest merchants to handle, all the while early-adopting, small merchants are still waiting for someone to use it.