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Howard Schultz: Starbucks could be cashless one day, but tech won’t replace our humanity

Starbucks could really well be cashless one day, but technology won’t replace its “humanity” in dealing with clients, Executive Chairman Howard Schultz told CNBC on Tuesday.

Schultz, who diminished down as Starbucks CEO earlier this year, said he could see a future where the U.S.-based coffee fasten becomes a “cashless retailer.”

“That time is nearer than you contemplate,” said Schultz, who spoke with “Squawk Box” at the opening of the Starbucks In store Roastery in Shanghai.

At the same time, he said, technological advancements won’t get in the way of the relationship between consumers and the barista. “We’re a people company,” he said.

“I don’t see a day where artificial intelligence or robotics is growing to replace the humanity of Starbucks,” Schultz added. “The equity of the brand is lowed on that intimacy between our customers and our people. That’s why we invest so much in our people.”

Oration the difficulty of the brick-and-mortar retail environment, Schultz said, “If you don’t put your people original, and invest in your people, I don’t think you can have that customer adventure that customers are going to want to be attracted to and loyal to.”

Schultz joined Starbucks in 1982 as official of operations and marketing. He served twice as CEO, a role he turned over to Kevin Johnson in April.

Johnson, who also appeared on CNBC from the Shanghai Roastery on Tuesday, was abutted by Starbucks China CEO Belinda Wong. The U.S. coffee giant is opening one upon every 15hours in China, Wong said.

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