Chicago/New York: One of the world’s biggest exchanges is finally diving into Bitcoin, teaming up with Starbucks Corp. and Microsoft Corp. and announcing a futures contract on the cryptocurrency.
Intercontinental Exchange Inc., which owns some of the biggest futures markets as well as the New York Stock Exchange, said it’s creating a new company called Bakkt that aims to “create an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets," according to a statement on Friday.
The venture hopes to introduce a one-day futures contract in November that differs from derivatives already offered by US competitors CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. because it’s physically delivered, meaning owners of the contract will get Bitcoin, not cash, upon expiration.
“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, the chief executive officer of Bakkt who was until recently head of communications at ICE. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce."
Despite Bitcoin’s astronomical surge last year, it’s still not widely used to buy and sell actual goods in most countries. Many startups have sought to take cryptocurrencies mainstream by developing exchanges or payment solutions for merchants, but few have had success connecting all of the necessary players. ICE wants to be the one-stop shop that takes crypto from a speculative investment to a staple of global commerce.
ICE said Starbucks and Microsoft were joining the effort to help consumers and institutions “buy, sell, store and spend digital assets."
In addition to ICE and Microsoft’s venture capital arm, investors in Bakkt are expected to include an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures, Alan Howard, Pantera Capital, Protocol Ventures and Susquehanna International Group, the statement said.