In what could be a gamechanger for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, coffee chain Starbucks has announced that it is partnering with Microsoft and ICE on a new payment platform that could widely expand the range of venues where it is possible to spend digital currencies.
Starbucks will be working with Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft and BCG, among other interested parties, in creating a new platform called Bakkt. Bakkt is a global network which will allow both institutions and consumers to spend and store cryptocurrencies. It is currently slated to launch in November this year, subject to approval by the CFTC.
According to Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt’s CEO, the platform is “designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets,” and will promote “greater efficiency, security and utility.” Loeffler says that Bakkt will help to “unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”
Starbucks to play “pivotal role”
The Vice President of Partnerships and Payments at Starbucks, Maria Smith, said that the company would, “play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications” that its customers could use “to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks.” The company has already invested heavily in mobile payment options, and is “committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”
Brian Kelly, the CEO of blockchain investment firm BKCM, one of the partners in the scheme, said that this was “very big news for Bitcoin.” One of the biggest factors holding Bitcoin back is the lack of places to spend the cryptocurrency. This perception will certainly change when that option is available “at every single Starbucks.” The combination of a household name retailer and a “a huge regulated institution like the ICE” is “really positive for the space,” Kelly said.
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