Bakkt Is Our ‘Moonshot Bet’ Says ICE CEO, Plans to Launch the Platform Later This Year

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by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
Bakkt Is Our ‘Moonshot Bet’ Says ICE CEO, Plans to Launch the Platform Later This Year
Photo: Metro Atlanta Chamber / Flickr

ICE CEO Jeff Sprecher talked about how his team is working diligently for the launch of Bakkt and why he continues to hold utmost faith in Bitcoin.

NYSE parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced the arrival of its crypto trading platform Bakkt last year in August 2018. However, Bakkt is facing multiple delays and roadblocks for its final launch. The ongoing crypto market slowdown and some political reasons like the U.S. Government shutdown have played a role in the delay.

But this has not deterred Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler from pursuing the final mission. Recently, ICE CEO and NYSE chairman Jeff Sprecher spoke about the arrival of Bakkt while reporting the Q4 results for his company. He referred to the Bakkt platform as a ‘Moonshot bet’ for ICE adding that its launch could likely happen later this year.

“It’s a bit of a moonshot bet and it’s been organized in a manner that is very different than the way ICE typically does businesses. Bakkt has its own offices, its own management team, etc. They’re well along in building out an infrastructure that I think you’ll see launch later this year,” said Sprecher.

ICE – The Major Investor In Bakkt

Sprecher said that ICE is currently the major investor in Bakkt platform. Also, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler is Sprecher’s wife and the two together are making every effort for the platform’s success.

Bakkt is already having investments from industry heavyweights like Microsoft, Starbucks, and Boston Consultancy Group (BCG). Also, in early 2019, Bakkt secured a massive $182 million investment from high-profile venture capital investors. Sprecher said that down the road, at some point, he plans for some more rounds of financing for Bakkt.

During the conference call, ICE’s chief financing officer- Scott Hill spoke about the expenses relating to Bakkt. He said that during Q1 2019 the expenses topped to $25 million. Hill added:

“Our investment in Bakkt will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter. We will update you on progress at Bakkt and the level of investment as we move through the year.”

Along with launching the crypto trading facility, Bakkt will also bring its Bitcoin futures in the market during launch. The Bakkt team is currently working with CFTC on the futures approval. However, the U.S. government shutdown last month majorly delayed the scheduled progress.

Growing Institutional Interest for Bakkt’s Launch

Despite the massive slowdown in the crypto market and continuous delay in Bakkt’s plans, Sprecher said that corporates and other financial giants are showing great interest in the arrival of Bakkt. He added:

“That infrastructure has attracted a lot of very, very interesting companies that have come: Some that have invested in Bakkt, some are just working with Bakkt to try to tap into that infrastructure for some new use cases that will involve blockchain and digital assets.

Obviously, we’ve announced our work with Starbucks and Microsoft. We have very, very large retail franchises…that we hope will be brought into that ecosystem and could create a very, very valuable company out of that initiative if our business plan plays out.”

While many analysts have been bashing Bitcoin for its poor performance, Sprecher still supports it. He said that Bitcoin is the yardstick to measure the performance of the entire crypto market, and that’s not going to change.

“Somehow bitcoin has lived in a swamp and survived. There are thousands of other tokens that you could argue are better, but yet bitcoin continues to survive, thrive, and attract attention,” added Sprecher.

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