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Coffee and muffins cafe and meetup spot giant Starbucks Corp. today unveiled details on its new upcoming rewards program Starbucks Odyssey powered by nonfungible tokens, which will offer loyalty rewards to customers through blockchain technology.

The new setup uses the Web3 technology of NFTs, which are a type of crypto asset built on blockchains that represent the ownership of digital items such as artwork, music and video game items. In this case, it combines with the already existing Starbucks Rewards loyalty program where members earn “stars,” which can be exchanged for in-store perks such as free drinks and food. Because NFTs are self-owned they can be bought, sold and traded between users.

To engage with and earn the new NFTs, users will log in using their current Rewards program log-in and engage in the Odyssey “journeys,” a series of activities, such as playing interactive games or trivia challenges about coffee and Starbucks. Members will be rewarded with digital collectible stamps, which are NFTs.

“Starbucks has always served as the Third Place, a place between home and work where you feel the warmth of connection over coffee, community and belonging,” said Brady Brewer, Starbucks executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “The Starbucks Odyssey experience will extend the Third Place connection to the digital world. For the first time, we are connecting our Starbucks Rewards loyalty program members not just to Starbucks, but to each other.”

Members can also buy limited-edition versions of the NFT stamps through a built-in marketplace within the Starbucks Odyssey web app. These limited-edition stamps will be available for purchase directly with credit cards.

Although NFTs are part of the crypto ecosystem, users will not require any advanced knowledge to use them, nor do they require a crypto wallet or cryptocurrency to buy them. This will make them easy for the public to understand and interact with.

As stamps are collected, members’ points will increase, which will unlock benefits and experiences. For a smaller number of points, this could mean something like a virtual espresso martini-making class, and more points could open up unique merchandise such and artist collaborations. On the high-end of point collections, members could get invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries or trips to the Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica.

Starbucks said that it sought to explore what is called Web3, which is what is known as the next iteration of the World Wide Web, or the decentralized web, and how it could benefit its customers. To do so it settled on a “proof-of-stake” blockchain scaling technology built by Polygon, which uses less energy than the first generation “proof-of-work” blockchains such as bitcoin.

“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,” said Brewer. “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.”

Customers can sign up for a waitlist for Starbucks Odyssey NFT experiences today. Invitations will be sent out to select members later in the year in a slow rollout as the system evolves and feedback will be used to shape it for the Starbucks audience.

Photo: Starbucks

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