Indeed, Starbucks Chair Howard Shultz recently took to the airwaves to let everyone know that his coffee company is getting into the blockchain business.
"I think blockchain technology is probably the rails in which an integrated app at Starbucks will be sitting on top of," he said during an interview on FOX Business Network.
Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger behind Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies. Crypto traders depend on blockchain's transparency and unchanging nature to record all their transactions. Now industries beyond digital coins and even fintech are exploring how to use the technology. Blockchain is potentially the perfect technology for everything from running global supply chains to keeping track of medical records.
But Schulz didn't mention any of that.
Instead, he talked about the possibility of expanding digital customer relationships using blockchain, or even the possibility of launching a proprietary crypto coin. "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," he said during an earnings call.
Hold on, buddy.
That sounds an awful lot like gimmickry to me – tweaking some technology and then using the "blockchain" name to rebrand an already existing customer rewards program.
That's not going to "move the needle" on a big company like Starbucks – and it doesn't make the Seattle company a blockchain investment.
As Clara Peller would have put it back in the 1980s, there's no "beef" here.
However, there's another company out there that didn't just talk about the blockchain in the past week or so, but made some noticeable moves with it.
It's making blockchain technology a key part of its business – and it's doing so in a huge and growing market.
Plus, now is the perfect time to buy – here's why…
Not Yet a Blockchain Leader
Both microcaps and a growing list of Fortune 500 firms and big global banks are investing in blockchain.
Those global giants are doing so because blockchain is a highly secure, cryptographic system that functions as a global distributed ledger. This system not only undergirds Bitcoin and other currencies, but it bypasses banks and governments, operates transparently, and is virtually hack-proof.
Many of us soon will be settling contracts with blockchain. By doing so, we'll avoid bank fees, possible litigation, and a lot of other issues that economists like to refer as "friction." Plus, you can go online and watch these transactions occurring in near real time.
Gartner says the blockchain created $4 billion in business value last year. The firm believes that figure will hit $21 billion by 2020 before rising to $176 billion in 2025 and a staggering $3.1 trillion by 2030.
Bear in mind, this is the market value for blockchain-based enterprise applications. It doesn't count the escalating market cap of cryptocurrencies themselves, of which there are now roughly 1,300 with a combined value of nearly $800 billion.
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To me, that's just an amazing set of statistics. This is a field that barely existed just nine years ago. But it proves a point I've been making since I got involved in crypto trading in early 2013 – the future belongs to blockchain.
Now, I didn't mean to diminish Starbucks itself when I compared it to Kodak's blockchain foolishness up top.
The global coffee chain has been big on technology ever since it put WiFi in its stores back in 2001, when most people were still on dial-up.
In fact, it's a company I like a lot – and recommended to you as a play on mobile technology back in 2015.
Now if Starbucks goes beyond a customer reward system and starts using blockchain to reduce inefficiencies in its supply chain – as a recent linkup with the Qtum crypto coin suggests could happen – then we'll have a different story here.
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.