Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) Bakkt ambitions have hit a new milestone, with the project raising over $182.5 million from a number of high-profile investors.
Bakkt, set to launch mid-January, is aiming to bring to the crypto market a whole new sphere of crypto trading tools, targeting retail and institutional-level investors alike.
The company’s flagship offering is set to be a U.S.-based futures exchange and clearinghouse wherein actual bitcoin will be exchanged upon contract settlement, a step away from the ‘paper futures’ contracts used by CME Group and CBOE. To facilitate these services, the company will also create a safeguarded warehouse to store active wallets, allowing the ‘physical’ delivery of bitcoin.
Despite depressed bitcoin prices, the project has attracted significant attention from major investors, including Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, and more.
Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler has a maintained a positive outlook on the industry, explaining, “Notably, 2018 was the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history. This was evidenced by rising investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as daily bitcoin transaction value and active addresses. Yet, these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the more narrow focus on bitcoin’s price, which has been seen by some, as a proxy for the potential of the technology.”
Over the past year, Loeffler and the team behind the project have worked closely with regulators to ensure that the project encounters no issues when coming to market.
Though Bakkt has especially noteworthy regulatory and industry backing, unforeseen circumstances, including the recent U.S. government shutdown have created hurdles for the project.
Loeffler explained, “At Bakkt, we’re focused on the work required, both near- and long-term, to evolve the applications for digital assets. Market quality, regulation, scale, security and utility are critical for establishing a strong foundation where innovation can flourish. Our first step is to establish the trust and infrastructure that builds confidence and grows participation at the institutional and merchant level. This is work that needs to be done, and we are excited to be part of this effort on a global scale as 2019 begins.”
Despite the delays, however, Bakkt is poised to have a significant impact on crypto markets.
In addition to its ‘physical’ bitcoin futures settlements, Bakkt is partnering with Microsoft and Starbucks to build an infrastructure for businesses to accept and exchange cryptocurrencies.
“As the flagship retailer, Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks,” said Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks.
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