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Starbucks' Odyssey into Web3

Starbucks to issue NFTs as 'stamps' to US customers

Photo by Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Web3-inspired Starbucks Odyssey is beginning its beta program, starting with waitlisted customers based in the US. This is new waters for the largest coffee chain in the world, as they look to offer customers "unique experiences" powered by blockchain.

A Beta Brewing

Starbucks Odyssey is the company's first venture into the digital world. Announced on September 12, 2022, it serves as an extension of their original rewards program but "using meaningful elements of Web3 technology to reward members in innovative ways", the company said in a statement.

Officially launching the beta yesterday (Dec 8th), it's currently open to members who signed up to their waitlist, expanding to reach more coffee—crazed fans in January 2023.

Not your typical loyalty card, Odyssey incentivizes users to complete different, interactive challenges called 'Journeys'. Completing this yields stamps (collectible NFTs) on the app, and 'Odyssey points' that eventually add up to new benefits and experiences that "they cannot get anywhere else".

The stamps will also be tradeable on NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway, combining coffee fanaticism and collectible fandom into one under a Starbucks-own-brew decentralized ecosystem.

Crypto Concerns

As put by Brady Brewer, CMO and Executive VP of Starbucks–yes, that's his real name–“Starbucks has a history of harnessing emerging technology to innovate on behalf of our customers and making it easily accessible and approachable for the mainstream".

But cryptocurrencies are notoriously obtuse to many new users, featuring 12 word seed phrases and long addresses. Everything from poor user interfaces to high transaction fees limits the accessibility of crypto, so Starbucks has work to do if they want to avoid an odyssey into the stormy seas of terrible user experience (UX)–and so does crypto if it wants to be the payment mainstay of the metaverse.

But it might just be smooth sailing instead, as Starbucks is placing a priority on UX, announcing that users would be able to interact with the loyalty program without knowing they were using blockchain. That means no clunky cryptocurrencies or web3 wallets. Instead, customers will be able to purchase stamps with regular credit cards, gaining additional rewards for purchases.

With more to follow next year, Starbucks announced that those waitlisted for the current beta will help to shape the future of the rewards program, meaning it could change drastically–for the better or worse–as we journey into 2023.