Starbucks, the leading coffeehouse company in the world, now accepts Bitcoin in its branches located in Hong Kong.
The company is not directly accepting bitcoin; instead, a new service allows users to pay with bitcoin in Starbucks and enjoy a 20% discount. This service is called FOLD. The customer is provided with a personal Starbucks code, which the user can load with bitcoin and pay with it like a gift card. This app works withing the USA, and it claims it is untested for other regions, but it has been confirmed that it is working in Hong Kong by the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong.
This new startup is unaffiliated with the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, but some members of the association have tried it and they have confirmed it is working. The Starbucks balance can be topped up with bitcoin in denominations of $5, $10 and $25 (USD), which is usable in any Starbucks store in Hong Kong. The change can be stored on the card after payment, and it can also be returned to the user via bitcoin, which is a very good feature that FOLD provides.
FOLD is a new startup that aims to allow people to ‘start spending bitcoin in the real world’, and they are currently working on a similar integration with three companies: Starbucks, Target and Whole Foods. The service and app is currently under development, and as of now, it is only usable with Starbucks.
This may cause bitcoin to come to Starbucks’ attention, since they will probably be aware that users are starting to use bitcoin for their store transactions via a third party. It is a great step in bringing bitcoin transactions into the real world, and prove that it is not only for online transactions. It is also expected that more stores in Hong Kong will be supported by FOLD, since the city is quite open and welcoming to new technologies to boost the financial sector.