- Starbucks is testing a way to let users of its mobile app pay for coffee and food with the cryptocurrency Bakkt Cash, Adam White, president of Bakkt, announced in a tweet. Bakkt, pronounced "backed," is a Bitcoin futures exchange overseen by Intercontinential Exchange (ICE), which also owns the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
- Starbucks is currently conducting a limited test of Bakkt as a payment method, and is a launch partner for Bakkt's dollar-denominated digital wallet, Coindesk reported. Starbucks also allows people to pay with Apple Pay, Chase Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and Visa Checkout, among other methods, per its website.
- Bakkt this week announced it had raised $300 million in funding from investors that include Microsoft's M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital and Pantera Capital. Bakkt plans to launch its mobile payments app this summer, CEO Mike Blandina said in a blog post.
Starbucks' test of Bakkt comes a year and a half since announcing a collaboration with ICE on Bakkt, the platform that lets customers buy, sell, store and spend digital currencies. Starbucks is a good match for a digital payments startup, considering that the coffee chain was an early pioneer of mobile payments. Starbucks had provided the most popular mobile payment method for shoppers in the U.S., though eMarketer forecast that Apple Pay would overtake the coffee chain's payment app by the end of last year.
Starbucks is among the restaurants and retailers that are either testing payments with digital currencies or have begun accepting them. Last year, Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond and Nordstrom were among the major retailers that started accepting cryptocurrency payments from users of the Spedn mobile wallet app. Lowe's, Regal Cinemas, Ulta Beauty and Baskin Robbins also started accepting cryptocurrency payments.
While Apple Pay was forecast to become the most popular mobile payment app, particularly after issuing the first Mastercard credit card through Goldman Sachs last year, Starbucks Pay is still growing strongly, per eMarketer. That growth demonstrates that store chains can set up proprietary payment systems that maintain control of consumer purchasing data. Walmart, as another example, also developed a payments app that's integrated with in-store payments and online orders for delivery and pickup.
The news of Starbucks' test of Bakkt also comes as the chain prepares to modify operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chain could enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks App or delivery via Uber Eats, according to CEO Kevin Johnson.