For technologies that have been billed as the future of payments, it’s really hard to actually use digital currencies like Bitcoin or Etherium to buy things in the real world. A partnership of tech and retail companies that includes Starbucks and Microsoft plans to back a new company designed to address that shortcoming.
Bakkt is a new company launched Friday by Intercontinental Exchange, a builder of electronic markets for financial services and owner of the New York Stock Exchange. Using Microsoft’s cloud technology, Bakkt intends to build “an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network,” it said in a press release.
Starbucks has long shown an interest in developing and controlling payment technologies used in its 24,000 stores around the world. It was one of the first retailers to experiment with smartphone payments, and after a few early glitches, now has more people using its mobile payments app in the U.S. than use the Apple Pay technology built into modern iPhones.