Breaking: NYSE Owner Is Betting Big on Cryptocurrency with Bakkt

Intercontinental Exchange, the world’s biggest stock exchange operator, is launching a startup company called Bakkt to bring cryptocurrencies to mainstream investors and consumers.

Introducing Bakkt

ICE announced Friday it is teaming up with some of Corporate America’s most influential companies to launch Bakkt, a startup that will offer a federally regulated market for cryptocurrency. The new platform, which is expected to launch in November, is backed by Microsoft cloud solutions, Boston Consulting Group and Starbucks, among others. Early-stage investors also include Fortress Investment Group and Susquehanna International Group.

“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,” said Kelly Loeffler, CEO of the new startup, as reported by Fortune. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”

“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.

In an interview with Fortune, Sprecher said bitcoin has “the potential to become the first worldwide currency,” which can greatly enhance global payment flows. This is possible through ICE’s custody services, which will enable firms to conduct frictionless transactions with other institutions over the Bakkt ledger.

Mainstream Adoption Grows

Bakkt, which is expected to launch in November, could become a major catalyst for bitcoin adoption at the consumer and investor levels. As Fortune reports, ICE’s custody services will allow Bakkt to service both retail investors and institutional traders as well those looking to leverage cryptocurrency for their 401(k) and IRA accounts.

However, the startup’s vision is far more ambitious. Bakkt not only aims to bring cryptocurrency to mainstream investors, it seeks to disrupt the world of retail payments by moving consumers from credit cards to bitcoin apps. Starbucks will play a pivotal role in that transition.

“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 U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks,” said Maria Smith, a senior executive at Starbucks.

The announcement of Bakkt is a game-changer for the cryptocurrency industry, which has struggled with regulatory uncertainty and weak penetration in the payments market. With ICE on board, the cryptocurrency market may be on the verge of a profound paradigm shift.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi