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Starbucks Taps Ethereum Scaling Network Polygon for NFT Rewards

The coffee giant plans to both give out and sell digital stamps that can unlock perks like exclusive merch, private events, and trips.

In brief

  • Coffee chain Starbucks will launch an NFT platform using Polygon, an Ethereum scaling network.
  • The Starbucks Odyssey program will give away NFT stamps to customers and employees, but also sell limited edition NFTs.

Would you like an NFT with your latte? Starbucks today announced that it plans to offer its customers NFT rewards through Polygon, an Ethereum scaling network. The NFTs will unlock access to things like merchandise and events.

The Starbucks Odyssey program, which will launch later this year, will let both customers and employees in the United States earn digital stamps as rewards, as well as purchase and trade limited edition digital stamps. Each stamp will be minted as an NFT, or a blockchain token that represents ownership for things like digital collectibles and artwork.

The initiative is billed as an extension of the existing Starbucks Rewards program, and will let customers earn “journey stamp” NFTs by completing challenges and playing interactive games through the coffee chain’s app.

Meanwhile, the limited edition NFT stamps will be sold by the company and can be purchased with credit cards—cryptocurrency won’t be required to “claim an ownership stake in their loyalty to Starbucks,” as the company describes it. A Starbucks Odyssey web app will then feature a secondary marketplace to let stamp owners buy and sell them as they please.

There will be incentives for users to collect these stamps, as the NFTs will boost a user’s level in the Odyssey app and lead to potential rewards—from virtual drink-mixing classes to exclusive merchandise, access to private events, or a trip to Starbucks’ Costa Rican coffee farm. A portion of proceeds from NFT sales will support undisclosed causes, the company said.

In a tweet thread today, NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway said that it will power the Starbucks Odyssey platform. The marketplace, which is best known for NFT collections from artists like Beeple and musician The Weeknd, recently launched a Publishers initiative that lets brands and creators develop their own NFT drops using the Nifty Gateway tech.

Polygon is an Ethereum sidechain that enables faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient transactions than Ethereum’s own mainnet can handle alone. It has become a favorite of brand partners of late, with firms like Coca-Cola and Reddit launching NFTs on Polygon, plus Disney picked Polygon for its Web3 accelerator program this past summer.

Starbucks has teased its Web3 initiative for months, even drawing criticism from employees who noted the environmental impact of some NFT platforms. As a proof-of-stake network that doesn’t use crypto mining, Polygon uses dramatically less energy than Ethereum. The Ethereum network, however, is itself set to undergo an eco-friendly upgrade called the merge, which will transition the network's mainnet to proof of stake.

Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include details of Nifty Gateway's involvement with the Starbucks Odyssey program.

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