Fintech/Payments Technology

Will brands fall for the Blockchain?

Will Starbucks Go Crypto?

As recently as six months ago it seemed like the standard response to any question involving blockchain or any sort of crypto-currency was something like a verbal duck & cover. It seemed like the topic had gained enough importance to warrant casual mention but, at least in my circles, it was still distant enough that most people didn’t really have to pay attention to it. But that seems to have changed.

By Mike Giambattista

Almost every millennial I know is dabbling in some sort of Bitcoin or crypto-investment. And the upper-level business managers are now starting to talk about blockchain in meaningful ways. Of course, the news cycle is responsible for some of that, but there has been a notable rise in the pitch and tenor of crypto-finance talk – and some brands are starting to take note.

Case in point, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, in their latest earnings call, spent a portion of his time at the dais talking about how the coffee mega-chain could be on the forefront of bringing crypto to the mainstream.

“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. And I believe that Starbucks is in a unique position to take advantage of that,” Schultz said. “Now, I don’t want anyone to hang up on this call and assume that we have this all figured out because we don’t. Or that we’re making a significant investment in this, because we’re not.”

But, Shultz did go on to say that Starbucks’ entrepreneurial culture lends itself to looking ahead and making significant bets on technologies that other brands may not be comfortable with just yet.

Starbucks’ Shultz’ position is salient however, “There’s going to be a lot of winners, a lot of losers,” Schultz said. “But we are in a very unique position to take advantage of what other tech companies and the blockchain technology will provide in terms of the rails to potentially be in the mix of this and benefit financially, benefit in terms of consumer behavior and incrementality and significantly create long-term shareholder value.”

Starbucks is far from unique, however. Though they are one of the biggest brands to begin testing the crypto-currency waters, they are not the only ones. Kodak, Hooters and Long Island Iced Tea have all adopted blockchain technology and they have each seen their stock prices soar, at least partially due to those investments.

Our admonition – right now is the time to start undertaking the effort to understand this technology and to begin thinking about how it could affect your brand, your operation, your industry.

Mike Giambattista is Managing Editor at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).

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