Starbucks founder: ‘I don’t believe that bitcoin is going to be a currency today or in the future’

  • Starbucks reported earnings that beat Wall Street’s per-share expectations on Friday, but missed on revenue targets.
  • On a conference call following earnings, former CEO Howard Schultz said he was optimistic about blockchain and cryptocurrencies – but not bitcoin.

Starbucks founder and former longtime CEO Howard Schultz remains unconvinced about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies possibly replacing traditional money.

“Are you anticipating what could happen with cryptocurrencies?” Schultz asked rhetorically on a conference call with Wall Street analysts following the coffee chain’s disappointing first-quarter earnings.

“And the reason I mentioned this is not because I’m talking about bitcoin because I don’t believe that bitcoin is going to be a currency today or in the future,” he continued. “I’m talking about the new technology of blockchain and the possibility of what could happen not in the near terms, but in a few years from now.”

Schultz, who stepped down as chief executive last year and currently serves as executive chairman, made sure to establish that Starbucks was not adopting or investing in a cryptocurrency. Still, a few of them will eventually see legitimate use, he said.

I’m bringing this up because as we think about the future of consumer behavior I personally believe there is going to be one or a few legitimate trusted digital currencies off of the blockchain technology,” he said.

Starbucks has been a leader in the digital payments space for years. Its ‘My Starbucks Rewards’ (MSR) program is up to 14.2 million members in the US, it announced alongside earnings, and members accounted for 37% of the chain’s US sales. Mobile pay accounted for 11%.

“One bright spot was reacceleration of MSR members,” Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore said in a note to clients Friday morning. “But it was not enough to offset declines in more casual Starbucks users.”

Shares lost as much as 4% after hours following the company’s top-line revenue miss, and are poised to open Friday at $57.76.