Luckin Coffee Pursues Starbucks, Mobile Payments and All

February 5, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Could we be about to see a competitor to Starbucks emerge? I mean like a real, honest, straight-up competitor with equal capital firepower and everything else? Reports suggest this may be the case as new word says Luckin Coffee is out to launch a United States initial public offering (IPO) which suggests a potential expansion to follow.

The news is still very early stage, which means it could ultimately fall apart as a furious ball of nothing. But word remains that Luckin is getting together with Credit Suisse to make the deed happen, and there’s also word that Luckin is ready to call in other banks, if needed. Credit Suisse and Luckin, for their part, kept mum about the whole affair.

The news comes amid some very strange circumstances. Not long ago, we heard that Luckin was looking to open up 2,500 new locations in China, and was actively competing with Starbucks in China, who brought in Alibaba to help pursue coffee delivery.

Of course, just because Luckin takes on an IPO in the US doesn’t mean we’ll see Luckin open up shop in Times Square or anywhere else; Luckin could just be looking for alternate sources of funding to help drive its push to take on Starbucks in China. Of course, that’d be hard to do anyway; if Luckin has China for a market and Starbucks has the world, then can Luckin ever really hope to win? Starbucks could pull a Walmart, price its coffee in the bargain basement in China and use the rest of the world to power the plan. Luckin would eventually be aced out without some kind of special ability. What kind of ability could Luckin pull out that Starbucks couldn’t ultimately match?

The coffee wars are heating up, that’s for sure. If Luckin does expand, that’d be quite a step; it’s hard to see how people would be willing to invest in a coffee brand they can’t actually try unless they travel to China. But Luckin no doubt needs cash to pursue such an ambitious goal, and a chance to buy the next Starbucks at an early stage could do the job.