Starbucks boards the Web3 tech train with NFT-based loyalty program

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) revealed the Starbucks Odyssey loyalty program, which uses Web3 technology to offer Starbucks Rewards members and employees in the United States the ability to earn and buy digital collectible assets.

The assets, specifically non-fungible tokens (NFT), will unlock new benefits and coffee options. Starbucks is one of the first companies to get involved with NFTs using a large-scale loyalty program, facilitating a digital community that will give the company new avenues towards engagement with its members and partners.

“Leveraging Web3 technology will allow our members to access experiences and ownership that was not possible before. Starbucks Odyssey will transcend the foundational benefits that our Starbucks Rewards members have come to love, and unlock digital, physical and experiential benefits that are uniquely Starbucks. By integrating into the Starbucks Rewards ecosystem and grounding the experience in coffee, connection and community, we are entering the Web3 space differently than any other brand, while deepening our members’ connection to Starbucks. Our vision is to create a place where our digital community can come together over coffee, engage in immersive experiences, and celebrate the heritage and future of Starbucks,” said Brady Brewer, Starbucks executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Starbucks Odyssey will be added as an extension onto the Starbucks Rewards program that members can get involve themselves with using their rewards login. After logging in, members can go on Starbucks Odyssey journeys, which are activities, like interactive games or challenges offering more knowledge about coffee and Starbucks specifically. Completing these games or challenges opens up the prospect of collecting digital ‘journey stamps’ in the form of NFTs.

The company has well-stated sustainability aspirations and commitments and the app was built with those in mind. In this case, the company used a ‘proof of stake’ blockchain originally built by the company behind the Polygon blockchain, which doesn’t have as much energy demand as a ‘proof-of-work’ blockchain like Bitcoin and its derivatives.

Polygon is a decentralized scaling platform that allows developers to build scalable decentralized applications with user-friendly optimization with low transaction fees and no tradeoffs with security. The Starbucks Odyssey joins payments processor Stripe, Adidas and Instagram among others in using this technology to power its program.

In addition to normal tier NFTs, members will have access to ‘limited-edition stamps’ through an in-app marketplace. The limited edition stamps will be available for purchase for all members using fiat with a credit card and no cryptocurrency wallet or crypto will be required. Each digital stamp will come with a point value denoting its rarity, and the stamps can be purchased or sold in the marketplace with ownership verified on a blockchain.

Members’ points increase as stamps accrue opening access to benefits and experiences previously unavailable. These could range from a virtual espresso martini-making class to unique merchandising and artist collaborations, to invitations to attend events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries or even trips to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica.

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