In a new interview with Maria Bartiromo in Fox Business, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz has made a surprising remark – quipping that the coffee house might soon leverage blockchain technology to offer a ‘proprietary digital currency’.
Speaking more broadly on the possibility of a new payments app, Schultz outlined that Starbucks would ‘probably’ move in the direction of leveraging blockchain technology to power an integrated payments solution that consumers could leverage when picking up their next cup o’ joe.
Schultz has previously elaborated that Starbucks might use blockchain technology but has dismissed outright the possibility of using Bitcoin. During a company earnings call, the former chief executive offered that his firm was pursuing blockchain-powered payment solutions with interest.
During the call, Schultz suggested that blockchain technology could play a pivotal role in how Starbucks aims to “expand digital customer relationships” – elaborating that “I believe that we are heading into a new age, in which blockchain technology is going to provide a significant level of a digital currency that is going to have a consumer application”.
While it remains uncertain as to what broader plans Starbucks might have for its blockchain-based payments program, some insight might be gleaned from moves made by other franchises based in the United States.
Specifically, Chanticleer Holdings – a Hooters franchisee – announced earlier in January that it would introduce a new blockchain-based rewards program, wherein consumers enjoying meals at a Chanticleer Holdings-owned store will accrue digital currency which can be redeemed for either meals or traded with other consumers.
Chanticleer Holdings CEO Michael Pruitt elaborated that the program would function as a multi-store rewards program – outlining that “Each brand owns the data about [its] interactions with a consumer, but the consumer owns the data about ALL of their transactions across all brands, stored in the distributed ledger of blockchain technology”.
The move to adopt blockchain technology resonated well with investors – prior to the announcement, Chanticleer Holdings’ market capitalization stood at some $8 million USD – yet afterward, that value surged to some $12 million USD.
It remains to be seen how Starbucks investors might react to a pivot to blockchain technology.
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