ICE Has Raised $182.5 Million for Upcoming Bakkt Trading Platform
The downturn in crypto has not deterred high-profile investors from betting big on the future of the market. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the world’s largest stock exchange operator, has raised $182.5 million in support of its Bakkt cryptocurrency venture.
Bakkt: Institutional Support Grows
The Bakkt startup has raised $182.5 million from more than a dozen high-profile investors and venture capital firms, CEO Kelly Loeffler announced Monday. First-round investors include: Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, Naspers’ fintech arm and Protocol Ventures.
“Our work today is centered on driving institutional access for digital assets, along with merchant and consumer uses, and we’re already expanding on this vision, collaborating with great companies like Starbucks in these efforts,” Loeffler said.
Further details on Bakkt’s 2019 objectives will be announced sometime next month, though Loeffler indicated that the focus is on developing new infrastructure for the nascent market. This includes the “industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”
Bakkt is scheduled to launch its bitcoin futures market Jan. 24 but delays in regulatory approvals could see that date get pushed back by a week or more. Further details can be found in the following article from Dec. 22.
Disrupting Traditional Finance
Bakkt has been described as the world’s first physically-backed bitcoin futures market, but its mandate stretches far beyond that. When ICE first unveiled the crypto startup in August, the goal was to broaden institutional access and consumer adoption of digital assets. Through high-profile partnerships with Starbucks and Microsoft and with the support of early investors like Susquehanna International and Fortress Investment, Bakkt is aiming to bring “regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets,” according to Jeffrey Sprecher, the founder and chairman of ICE.
The launch of a physically-settled bitcoin futures market as early as next month means institutional investors can access digital assets through a trusted custodian. On the consumer side, Starbucks will be the flagship retailer of Bakkt with the goal of developing practical applications for commercial use. According to Starbucks senior executive Maria Smith, consumers will one day be able to convert cryptocurrencies into dollars at various Starbucks locations.
Starbucks will play an important role in helping Bakkt disrupt the traditional payments market. One of Bakkt’s stated goals is to move consumers away from credit cards toward crypto applications.
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.