Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which owns the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), made two important announcements on Friday about launching a digital asset platform Bakkt and a Bitcoin futures product. In the official press release, ICE notes that it has launched Bakkt in collaboration with Microsoft and aiming to develop ‘an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets.’
Bakkt works to develop an integrated platform with a seamless global network that makes it absolutely easy for crypto enthusiasts and investors to buy, sell, hold and spend their digital assets. To achieve this, ICE will be using Microsoft’s cloud-based services. ICE has also collaborated with retail giants like Starbucks and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The Bakkt ecosystem will be operated under the purview of federal regulations. ICE says that its first use-case will be trading and conversion of Bitcoin to fiat. Development of digital currency-related applications will continue alongside with the adoption of the blockchain technology.
“In bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, we aim to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.
Starbucks Collaboration and Expert Opinions
Being a part of the Bakkt ecosystem American coffee-making giant Starbucks will be developing easy-to-use, trusted and regulated applications allowing customers to quickly convert their digital assets into fiat and later spend on their retail outlets.
Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks, said:
“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. As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”
While expressing optimism regarding working on the global platform, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler, said:
“Bakkt is designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security and utility. We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”
Sean Collins, Senior Partner, BCG also said:
“Blockchain technology holds tremendous potential to enable new business models and trusted ecosystems. By leveraging and developing fundamental market infrastructure, the Bakkt platform will enable firms across industries to accelerate a range of innovation.”
Along with ICE and Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12, the list of other affiliate investors for Bakkt include Mike Novogratz and his Galaxy Digital, Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Pantera Capital, Protocol Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alan Howard, and Susquehanna International Group, LLP.
ICE Working On Physically Settled Bitcoin Future Contract
Another important announcement that ICE made centered around its plan to launch a ‘1-day physically delivered Bitcoin contract’ by November 2018. ICE is currently working with a number of regulators including CFTC to ensure its smooth roll out. Unlike the CBOE and CME Bitcoin futures contracts that are cash-settled, the ICE Bitcoin Futures will be settled in the delivery of physical Bitcoin tokens. The press release notes:
“These regulated venues will establish new protocols for managing the specific security and settlement requirements of digital currencies. In addition, the clearing house plans to create a separate guarantee fund that will be funded by Bakkt.”
Bakkt is currently making the final preparation of its launch and further operational details will be announced in the coming weeks.