Contrary to reports in mainstream media, Starbucks has clarified that it will not be accepting direct bitcoin payments at coffee retail outlets.
As reported on Friday, Starbucks is part of a new cryptocurrency venture with Microsoft and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) dubbed “Bakkt”, a regulated Wall Street platform that could fundamentally bring cryptocurrencies like bitcoin into the mainstream.
“We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets [cryptocurrencies like bitcoin] across global markets and commerce,” Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler said following the announcement.
It’s a groundbreaking development for the cryptocurrency sector, enough for ICE founder and chief executive Jeff Sprecher to claim bitcoin “has the potential to become the first worldwide currency”.
Several mainstream media outlets lapped up the story with the likes of CNBC running with the headline “New Starbucks partnership with Microsoft allows customers to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin”, implying that the Seattle-based coffee retail giant will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments.
However, Starbucks has directly refuted such reports, clarifying that it would not directly accept bitcoins but will help customers swap their cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars before spending it at its outlets.
A spokesperson told Motherboard:
“It is important to clarify that we are not accepting digital assets at Starbucks. Rather the exchange will convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars, which can be used at Starbucks.”
Starbucks stressed it would play a “pivotal role” in backing regulated consumer applications to help swap their cryptocurrencies into fiat for use at retail outlets, in its press release accompanying the announcement on Friday.
The Bakkt platform, Starbucks explained, will see ‘trading and conversion’ of cryptocurrencies into fiat “as Bitcoin is today the most liquid digital currency”.
“At the current time, we are announcing the launch of trading and conversion of Bitcoin, the spokesperson said, adding:
“However, we will continue to talk with customers and regulators as the space evolves.”