Optimism often comes with vague ideas. In a company conference call whose transcript is published online, Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz reportedly said he does not “believe that Bitcoin is going to be a currency today or in the future,” clarifying that he was, instead, “talking about the new technology of blockchain and the possibility of what could happen not in the near term.”
While Schultz expressed confidence in what blockchain technology could offer to commercial establishments such as Starbucks, he is also wary because of the legacy Bitcoin or SegWit1x’s (BTC) volatility in terms of its current position as a digital asset. Despite this, Schultz said he “personally believe(s) that there is going to be one or a few legitimate, trusted digital currencies off of the blockchain technology.”
Schultz’ opinion that Bitcoin isn’t in a position to establish itself as a legitimate currency is correct, except that it’s a generalized statement. Bitcoin, or what’s left of the SegWit chain, does not represent all cryptocurrencies.
For micro-payments there are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash designed to make quick, low-cost transactions over a securely connected network. Buying a $3 cup of coffee shouldn’t rake in ten times the same amount in processing fees for a transaction that would take about half an hour (two blocks mined after the transaction order). This is the case with BTC, a highly-congested cryptocurrency network which relies on a single corporate-controlled development team.
In a recent interview, CEO Kevin Johnson talked about Starbuck’s first cashless store located in downtown Seattle, noting that both payment platforms and payments are constantly evolving. The giant coffee chain just might be ahead of its competitors in the race to adopt major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash for in-store payments.
Schultz offered a criteria for what would constitute a cryptocurrency’s success in the mainstream, saying that it will have to “be legitimatized by a brand in a brick-and-mortar environment, where the consumer has trust and confidence in the company that is providing the transaction.”
As a global brand, Starbucks’ statements and attitude towards cryptocurrencies in general will shape consumer behavior for years to come. Starbucks’ unique market position and commodity infrastructure is critical because if it adopts a certain cryptocurrency in the near future, it would mean legitimacy for that cryptocurrency. And if they follow the footsteps of Kodak and make their own cryptocurrency, it would influence their consumers towards trusting cryptocurrencies and/or blockchain technology.
At the moment, Bitcoin Cash is the best and cheapest way of buying a cup of coffee through a cryptocurrency. Here’s a meme from Reddit that illustrates its features: