Banking Investment News

ICE’s Bakkt Raises $182M for digital asset exchange

digital asset exchange bitcoin

Bakkt is one of the industry’s most watched projects for its potential to trigger a new wave of cryptocurrency interest and its own institutional roots.

The planned digital asset exchange from the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has revealed its recently completed first round of funding saw $182.5 million committed by 12 partners and investors.

The investment round’s participants include Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.

Bakkt is working closely with U.S regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), to gain approval for its bitcoin-based futures contracts and has delayed its launch until the approval, which it hopes will be in early 2019. Bitcoin futures already exist on the CME and CBOE, but the volumes are tiny compared to the primary spot market. The difference is Bakkt aims to settle its futures in Bitcoin, not dollars.

Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, summarised the new platform’s objectives for 2019 in a Medium post: “We are focused on opportunities to provide new infrastructure, including the industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”

Loeffler says Bakkt already has clearing firms and customers onboard and that: “Regulatory approval for physically delivered and warehoused bitcoin will establish and amplify the voice of U.S. authorities as the digital asset market evolves globally.”

The CEO explained the Bakkt team’s strength in building “once-nascent asset classes, from energy to credit derivatives and, now, bitcoin.”

“The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention, and, finally, acceptance. Each step, whether part of discovery or adversity, ultimately strengthens the product.”

Loeffler also believes 2018 was the most active year for cryptocurrencies, evidenced by the level of investment in distributed ledger technology (DLT), or blockchain, as well as the number of blockchain-based transactions and active network addresses.

“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.”