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South Korean Bankers ‘Fear’ Starbucks Crypto Threat

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

A report from South Korea claims that bankers in the country are concerned about the rise of an unexpected crypto threat – American coffee shop chain Starbucks.

Source: iStock/Wachiwit

Per the Korea Times, banking professionals have theories about the company’s digitization plans, and worry that they will fall behind when the coffee company flexes its crypto muscles.

The media outlet quotes an unnamed South Korean bank official as stating,

“Starbucks has been regarded as a fintech firm, not a coffee company, over the past few years. The removal of the word ‘coffee’ from its signboard also proves this.”

And the newspaper claims that domestic players are making “calls” for intervention from financial regulators, with a growing number of people hoping to “put controls on Starbucks.”

The same media outlet quotes Kim Sang-bong, a Hansung University economics professor, as stating,

“Regulations are needed for prepaid service providers to maintain a certain level of capital adequacy ratio.”

Per multiple reports, Starbucks opens some 80 new stores in the country every year. Seoul allegedly has more Starbucks outlets than any other city in the world, including New York and the company’s native Seattle.

The Korea Times quotes Kim Jung-tai, the CEO of the blockchain-keen Hana Financial Group as stating, in a recent New Year’s address to staff,

“Technology has allowed coffee companies like Starbucks to become our rivals. It would be acceptable to call Starbucks an unregulated bank, not a mere coffee company.”

The media outlet claims that the CEOs of rival banks Kookmin (KB) and NongHyup have also spoken about Starbucks in the past.

Starbucks is one of the backers of United States-based cryptocurrency platform Bakkt, which named the coffee shop giant as its first launch partner for its consumer crypto rollout, slated for some time this year.