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Starbucks joins forces with cryptocurrency venture

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Consumers may soon be able to pay for a Starbucks latte with bitcoin.

The coffee giant announced Friday that it will work in partnership with bitcoin exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange Inc. as it forms a new company to “create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.”

The new company, called Bakkt, will employ Microsoft cloud-based solutions to fashion a “global ecosystem” for digital currency, Starbucks officials said.

“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 U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks,” said Maria Smith, vice president of partnerships and payments for Starbucks, said in a statement. “As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”

Further operational details about Bakkt will be announced in coming weeks, according to Starbucks, with a planned launch of the company slated for November.

Earlier this year, Howard Shultz, then-executive chairman, expressed disdain for cryptocurrency during a Starbucks quarterly earnings call, saying the company had no plans to invest in the technology.

“I don’t believe that bitcoin is going to be a currency today or in the future,” Schultz, who stepped down from his role at the end of June, said at the time.

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