By now, you may have heard — Starbucks is betting that customers are willing to trade their hard-earned Bitcoins forof cold brew.
But contrary to the headlines you might have seen around the web, Starbucks isn’t planning to actually accept Bitcoins itself.
“Customers will not be able to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin,” a Starbucks spokesperson reportedly told Motherboard. That’s pretty clear.
So what’s actually going on here? Starbucks is simply the “flagship retailer” for a new cryptocurrency company called Bakkt, whose purpose is to let users and companies alike trade digital money, and convert it into traditional money, all around the world. Microsoft is also on board.
And traditional money is what Starbucks is hoping to get out of the arrangement:
“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,” said Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks, in the press release announcing the move. [We added the bold font.]
“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,” a Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to Motherboard.
Why does Starbucks care?, not Apple Pay or Google Pay, for proximity-based mobile payments (read: tap to pay at a cash register) in the US. They might like to maintain that lead.
Starbucks didn’t immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.