Ultimate Resource On Bakkt
Bitcoin (BTC) surged $500 in just five minutes today after experiencing a sharp drop on Oct. 23, from $7,950 to $7,450 and sitting at the position for two consecutive days. Ultimate Resource On Bakkt
According to the data from Coin360, BTC gained $536 in minutes, skyrocketing from $7,855 to $8,391. At press time Bitcoin is trading at around $8,424, up nearly 13% over the past 24 hours.
While the reason behind the recent drop is not clear, some community members attribute Bitcoin’s latest surge to 661 BTC futures contracts liquidation on the Bakkt platform, with the last recorded trading price settling at $7,890 per Bitcoin.
Twitter account Bakkt Volume Bot, which carries out live tracking on the platform, indicated the following performance:
∙ Today’s Volume So Far: 661 BTC
∙ Last Traded Price: $7,890.00
∙ Trading Day Progress: 38% (If This Continues: 100% Equals To 1740 BTC)
The latest trade deal on Bakkt apparently marked a new all-time high in BTC futures
volumes, following the previous high of 452 BTC futures contracts traded on Oct. 23.
Still other members of the community attribute today’s BTC surge to President Xi Jinping’s encouragement of blockchain development in the country.
Bitcoin Pulls Altcoin Markets Higher
Bitcoin’s rally has pulled altcoins higher, with some of the top-20 coins reporting double-digit gains on the day. In general, the top-20 cryptocurrencies are up from 0.02% to 21%.
The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrency markets is around $228,9 billion, up from $208 billion earlier in the day.
Bakkt Teases Launch of Consumer Payments App Scheduled For 2020
Cryptocurrency custody and futures trading platform Bakkt has announced its coming entry into mobile payments with a consumer app.
Per an Oct. 28 blog post from the company, Bakkt will follow its recent successes in trading Bitcoin (BTC) futures with a consumer app. According to the company, the app will help consumers “unlock the value of digital assets, as well as ways in which they can transact or track them.”
Starbucks on board
Though the announcement is vague on the specifics of the app’s functionalities, coffee empire Starbucks is the first major retailer to commit to the new payments application. Maria Smith, Starbucks’ vice president of partnerships and payments, 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.”
What’s New In The App?
Bakkt’s announcement broadly indicates a desire to speed up the conversion of digital assets into locally useful payment systems. It reads:
“We’re working to reduce friction in the use of digital assets to reflect their aggregate value and to reflect an increase in purchasing power that was previously siloed.”
The mechanism that Bakkt will be using for exchanging digital assets at points-of-sale remains unclear. Smith mentioned 15 million Starbucks Rewards members as a template for payments, but operations involving competing retailers and depending on cryptocurrencies present different challenges.
Bakkt’s Futures And Futures Options Trading
Bakkt has been busy in recent months. In September, the company opened trading of physically delivered Bitcoin futures on its platform.
On Oct. 24, following an all-time high in BTC futures contracts traded, Bakkt announced that it would be launching fully regulated BTC futures options trading in December.
Bitcoin Price Chart Now Looks ‘Ridiculous’ After Record Gains: Analyst
Bitcoin (BTC) held above $9,000 on Oct. 28 as a weekend of bullish madness continued to captivate markets.
Bitcoin Price Mulls Next Move Amid $8.8K Warning
Data from Coin360 showed volatility remaining elevated for Bitcoin on Monday, with swings between $9,100 and $9,900 characterizing the past 24 hours.
On Friday, news that China was officially embracing blockchain technology appeared to reawaken enthusiasm across cryptocurrency markets. After trailing at $7,400 for several days, BTC/USD suddenly exploded, hitting local highs of nearly $10,500 early Saturday morning.
Those levels have since consolidated, with the press time price of $9,400 nonetheless corresponding to 3-day gains of 25%.
China fuelled the mood once more as the week began, Cointelegraph reporting on the news a major national bank had sealed an investment deal in a Bitcoin wallet provider.
Despite the excitement being tangible among market participants, however, not everyone was convinced the new highs would endure.
“The chart obviously looks completely ridiculous now and CME are going to open with a gap to the upside if prices remain like this,” Cointelegraph contributor filbfilb told subscribers of his dedicated Telegram channel over the weekend.
Filbfilb added he expected BTC/USD to return to levels around $8,800.
Altcoin Markets Show A Clear Divide
Altcoins likewise maintained higher levels after rising precipitously in line with Bitcoin. However, it was Chinese projects which showed a clear advantage for traders.
Both Tron (TRX) and NEO (NEO) delivered considerably stronger performances than the average top twenty cryptocurrency, both rising around 23% in the past 24 hours. Tezos (XTZ) and Zcash (ZEC) also showed progress with 8% gains.
Ether (ETH), the largest altcoin by market cap, meanwhile saw sideways movements on Monday, with daily gains of just 1.5% to $182.
The overall cryptocurrency market cap hit $250 billion, with Bitcoin’s share at 68%.
Bullish Bakkt: Company Launches New Products As Futures Trading Surges
Each time Bitcoin (BTC) rallies past the all-important $10,000 mark, analysts seek to attribute the rise to major events occurring across the industry. The crypto sector is young, volatile and one major announcement can send ripples across the market.
In recent weeks, the market was on a downward trend, but a number of major occurrences have lifted the spirits of the industry participants. Bakkt, a company that focuses on driving institutional investment in crypto, has long been hyped as playing an important role in impacting market valuations.
But Bakkt’s product launches have not always matched up with its reputation. Back in September, the company launched a much-vaunted futures platform. Regardless of hype from the community and analysts alike, the project saw just 71 BTC (about $700,000 at the time), paltry figures for a project that was touted as a favorite to draw in serious institutional investment. Since the muted launch of the futures platform, volumes have grown, with two notable spikes during the last week.
Bull In The China Shop
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for blockchain innovation to be accelerated in the country has seemingly zapped a languishing market back into action. Bitcoin immediately shot up to over $10,500 and many altcoins rode the wave firmly back into the green.
Many crypto platforms experienced a boost in volume, and Bakkt was no different. According to data from the Twitter-based monitoring resource Bakkt Volume Bot, Bakkt traded 1,183 Bitcoin ($11 million) futures on Friday.
Since the launch of the futures platform, volumes have mostly been well below $1 million a day. The massive spike in trading was a 257% increase on the previous jump, a record that had only recently been set at 441 BTC futures contracts ($4.8 million) on Oct. 23. At press time, the total volume is over 616 traded contracts, down 48% on the previous day of trading.
As the volumes on Bakkt’s futures platform grow, the firm announced on Oct. 24 that it would launch the first regulated options contracts for Bitcoin on Dec. 9. In a press release, Bakkt announced the options contracts would comprise of capital efficiency, cash or physical settlement, low fees and European-style options.
The firm also said an in-built messaging service would allow traders to communicate while carrying out block trades, options and analytics. Although the options service will launch fee-free, Bakkt will begin charging $1.25 per contract from January 2020. Omar Bham, a content creator and frequent commentator on developments across the industry, explained to Cointelegraph why options are considered a fairly safe bet for investors in comparison to futures:
“They allow speculators to have the ‘option,’ but not obligation to finalize an expected short or long position (call/put). Futures payout gains/losses daily, and can hurt of certain positions are held. Options really only hurt traders via whatever they paid for the contract premium (price of opening the contract). Options will attract a whole other mature class of speculators to BAKKT, which could drive much more volume to the platform.”
Bham told Cointelegraph that Bakkt’s options service could further increase institutional investment in cryptocurrency, “As BAKKT caters to institutional players with big capital, increased volume from options should beget even more volume, as the platforms credibility grows.” He went on to add that because Bakkt requires BTC for settlements, it could drive the demand for crypto.
While many analysts were initially disappointed by Bakkt’s early BTC futures volumes, Bham outlined his view to Cointelegraph that both platforms will grow organically over time:
“BAKKT will continue to become an institutional household name, due to their association with ICE. As volumes grow, this will expedite even faster future growth.”
Prominent crypto analyst on Twitter “Dave the Wave” also told Cointelegraph that Bakkt’s options launch would funnel more institutional money into crypto markets. The analyst explained that the boost in liquidity could reduce volatility, leading to an eventual rise in prices.
Joseph Edwards, head of research for Enigma Securities, an institutional and corporate-facing over-the-counter crypto firm, told Cointelegraph that regulated Bitcoin options will benefit the industry long term:
“In the short term, while we’re optimistic and we see greater and quicker utility than was the case for the monthly futures release, we suspect that the markets still have September’s lesson in memory and that it will be unlikely to move the needle either way.”
While Edwards takes a dim view of the service that Bakkt is currently offering, he admitted that the discrepancy in volumes since the platform’s launch could come down to low usage from day traders, adding that, “What Bakkt currently offers in terms of its futures product does not provide game-changing utility.”
For Edwards, although the ripples from the Chinese government’s shift on blockchain might have had an immediate effect, it could be unwise to assume that institutional investment will be similarly impacted:
“We are taking a wait-and-see approach here, and would caution against assuming too much too quickly. The real implications for development are more likely going to be felt in the 1–3 year timespan than right away; we see it as fairly neutral for institutional interest in the short term.”
Bakkt pairs up with Starbucks
Although most of Bakkt’s commercial services have targeted institutional investment, the firm announced its entrance into the mobile payments sector with a new app-based project. Building on the momentum of the record volumes witnessed in its Bitcoin futures platform, the company announced in an Oct. 28 blog post that it would launch an app to help customers “unlock the value of digital assets.”
Thin on substance but big on ambition, the announcement revealed that the coffee behemoth Starbucks would accept digital payments in its stores. Starbucks’ vice president of partnerships and payments, Maria Smith, said:
“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.”
It remains unclear exactly how Bakkt will exchange digital assets into USD at points-of-sale. Smith indicated that the system for Starbucks Rewards, which has around 15 million members, could serve as a template for the payments scheme. Mike Novogratz, head of cryptocurrency merchant bank Digital Galaxy, tweeted his view that the venture from Bakkt and Starbucks is a sign that crypto acceptance is just around the corner:
“Follow this space. I.e., this is a big deal. Crypto acceptance is coming. Bakkt to launch consumer app in the first half of 2020; will test product with Starbucks.”
Joe Weisenthal, editor of Bloomberg Business and prominent finance commentator, criticized Novogratz’s tweet, commenting that coffee can already be bought with a wide range of payment systems and that the introduction of a crypto option was unlikely to change anything, saying: “I disagree. It is incredibly easy to buy coffee these days with a range of payment systems, and I can’t fathom how or why a crypto-based system will improve anything.”
Bakkt Set To Smash Bitcoin Trading Volume Record In November
Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading on the Intercontinental Exchange Bakkt platform is seeing a considerable rise in average daily volume so far this month compared to September and most of October.
Volumes yesterday, Nov. 5, hit close to their all-time-high — with 1061 traded contracts worth $10 million, a 96% increase over the previous day.
According to tracking data compiled by Twitter account Bakkt Volume Bot (@BakktBot) — which is not affiliated with Bakkt but rather with a Dutch journalist and crypto author Gert-Jan Lasterie — the platform had posted its all-time-high for traded contracts on Oct. 25.
November On Course To Smash October Volumes
At the current pace, Bakkt should trade over $200 million in BTC futures contracts in November.
Bakkt Volume Bot’s data reveals that as of late October, Bitcoin futures trading has been significantly and consistently higher than during the first month of the platform’s launch.
When compared to data on the Bitcoin spot markets, this strong uptick in Bakkt volume appears to correspond to a period of volatility kicking off — with Bitcoin falling below $7,500 and rapidly soaring to over $10,400 in late October, before settling closer to the $9,300 range in recent days.
Notwithstanding the more robust volume posted on Bakkt, volumes are still a considerable way off from the almost $970 million in daily traded volume currently on the Binance Futures platform.
As previously reported, Bakkt’s much-anticipated contracts — the first of their kind to be physically settled in Bitcoin — went live on Sept. 22.
The platform’s underwhelming volumes in its first week were immediately unfavorably compared to the fiat-settled BTC futures on CME, which first launched back in December 2017.
Bakkt Bitcoin Futures Daily Trading Volume Hits New Record — $15M
Bitcoin (BTC) futures daily volumes on digital asset platform Bakkt have hit a new all-time high, with 1,741 futures traded on Nov. 9.
Bakkt Announced The New Record, Stating:
“Today we set a new daily record of 1,756 Bakkt Bitcoin Futures contracts traded.”
Volume spike coincides with Bitcoin price dip
Twitter account dedicated to Bakkt futures trading volume data, Bakkt Volume Bot, also pointed out the development on Nov. 8.
Additionally, the daily volume of 1,741 (about $15.5 million) represents a 109% increase over the 834 contracts traded the day before with each contract being equivalent to one Bitcoin.
The new record volume coincides with a sharp Bitcoin price decrease, falling under $9,000. The last reported Bakkt contract trading price as of press time is $8,895.
Bakkt’s Volume Rising Month Over Month
Bakkt physically settled monthly Bitcoin trading volumes have been steadily rising since its launch. In October, its volumes have hit a new all-time high with 452 contracts traded.
Notably, on Oct. 26, Bakkt traded 1,183 Bitcoin futures contracts after registering a staggering 257% volume increase in 24 hours. This also coincided with a major price move that sent BTC over $10,000.
As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, Bakkt is also on its way to set a new monthly trading volume record. The company is also expected to launch the first regulated Bitcoin options contract on Dec. 9.
Bakkt Rolls Out ‘Critical’ Bitcoin Custody After NY Gives Green Light
Institutional Bitcoin (BTC) trading platform Bakkt has announced it has launched its custody feature for its entire client base following regulatory approval.
Bakkt: Custody Is “Critical Link” In BTC Adoption
In a blog post on Nov. 11, Bakkt said it had received the go-ahead from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to offer custody services to any institution. Previously, the option was only available for those trading its Bitcoin futures.
Commenting on the release, Bakkt described the custody tool as “the critical link in the institutional adoption of Bitcoin.”
“Safely storing digital assets demands a comprehensive approach to custody. Institutions and sophisticated investors need more than cutting-edge technology. They require proven infrastructure, robust operational controls, and independent oversight,” the blog post added.
Investors Eye Price Reaction
As Cointelegraph reported, the wider cryptocurrency sphere has keenly eyed the appearance of custody solutions following initial futures rollouts beginning in 2017.
Among them is Mike Novogratz, the serial investor who recently identified Bakkt’s offering as forming part of the essential metamorphosis of Bitcoin’s institutional appeal.
“But more importantly they’ve got a custody solution that’s just coming online… world-class custody which allows more and more people to feel comfortable with it,” he said in an interview late last month.
Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts have set new records of their own in recent days, with $15 million traded daily.
Bakkt Bitcoin Futures Set New Daily Record Trading Over $20M
Bitcoin (BTC) futures daily volumes on digital asset platform Bakkt have hit a new all-time high, according to data from Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). More than $20.3 million was traded in Bitcoin — or 2728 futures contracts — on Nov. 22.
30% Higher Than The Previous Daily Volume Record
The new volume record represents a 66% increase over the previous day and is roughly 30% higher than the previous all-time high on Nov. 8.
Major Price Moves Coincide With Big Volume
Additionally, yesterday’s open interest is currently $1.75 million, a 29% increase over the previous trading day. Despite a slow start upon launch in September, the volumes of Bakkt’s physically settled BTC futures have been gradually increasing.
The new record volume also coincides with a significant drop in Bitcoin price, which fell below $7,000 on Friday. Previous upticks in volumes have also aligned with major BTC price moves as seen around Oct. 25 and Nov. 8.
According to ICE — the operator of 23 leading global exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange — the last reported Bakkt contract trading price on Friday was $7,240.
As Cointelegraph reported, Bakkt is expanding its line of Bitcoin-related products as institutional interest appears to be growing.
The digital asset platform confirmed earlier this week that cash-settled Bitcoin futures contracts will be offered on ICE Futures Singapore as of Dec. 9. The first regulated options contract for Bitcoin is also expected to launch on the same date.
Bitcoin Trading Bucks Trend at Bakkt as Futures Hit $42.5M Record High
Bitcoin (BTC) institutional trading platform Bakkt has set another giant new record for its futures contracts, topping 5,600 BTC on the day.
As the company confirmed on Twitter, Nov. 27 saw a fresh all-time volume high for Bakkt’s monthly Bitcoin futures. During the session, Bakkt reported 4,443 BTC traded — over 60% higher than its previous record.
Bakkt Doubles Bitcoin Futures Record
Subsequently, non-affiliated monitoring resource Bakkt Bot counted an even higher total for the day — 5,671 BTC ($42.5 million).
According to Bakkt Bot, the previous record in dollar terms was $20.3 million Nov. 22, making Wednesday’s achievement 109% higher.
In total, Bakkt’s monthly futures have now traded for two months, having previously attracted attention for unexpectedly low volumes.
More recently, a Bitcoin custody solution has begun operations, while new financial products are set to follow next month.
“We look forward to building on this momentum as we approach the launch of the Bakkt Bitcoin Options contracts on Dec 9th,” staff added while announcing the progress.
What Bear Market?
Interest in Bakkt currently contrasts with the overall market sentiment in Bitcoin, which has fallen considerably against the dollar in recent weeks.
As Cointelegraph reported, one analyst considers investors were spooked by a fresh assault on exchanges from China, exiting their positions to buy back in at lower prices.
A subsequent liquidity squeeze could be compounding the selling pressure, VanEck executive Gabor Gurbacs added.
Meanwhile, a recent report from exchange Binance, which also offers futures, revealed over 90% of institutional investors choose to store their coins with trusted third parties.
Bakkt CEO Will Be Asked To Fill Georgia Senate Seat In 2020: Report
Crypto custodian Bakkt’s chief executive Kelly Loeffler has reportedly been picked by Governor Brian Kemp to serve in the U.S. Senate until the special election in November 2020.
Loeffler will likely be asked next week to serve as the replacement of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who has announced plans to vacate his senate seat on December 31, according to a report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing “several senior GOP officials.”
Last re-elected in 2016, Isakson is set to leave office before the expiration of his term in 2022. Kemp has authority to pick a replacement to fill in until the special election in November 2020.
The governor’s office, The Republican National Committee, Georgia Republican Party and Senator Isakson’s office have not responded to a request for comment from CoinDesk. The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) declined to comment.
A subsidiary of ICE announced in 2018, Bakkt said it was cleared to launch in September, providing physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts. It also has plans for a consumer facing app next year.
Loefller previously served as chief communication and marketing director at ICE.
Choice To Be Made Over President Trump’s Objections
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has told GOP leaders in recent days that he will pick Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to be interim U.S. senator, despite objections by President Trump, according to people familiar with the conversations.
Mr. Kemp, a Republican, notified Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, the people said. Mr. McConnell told Mr. Kemp that Ms. Loeffler would be treated like any other incumbent Republican senator, and would have the full support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, one of the people said. Mr. Kemp’s office declined to comment.
Messrs. Kemp and Collins met and briefly discussed the governor’s pick over the weekend at a University of Georgia—Georgia Tech football game, according to people familiar with the meeting.
The appointment of Ms. Loeffler, 49 years old, comes amid a rift between the governor and the president, who had recommend Rep. Doug Collins for the interim post. Mr. Collins has been a strong backer of Mr. Trump during the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Trump supported backed Mr. Kemp in his successful run for governor in 2018, when he narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Mr. Collins has raised the prospect of running for Senate next year against Ms. Loeffler and other candidates. Because the race for Mr. Isakson’s seat will be a special election, the November vote will be a “jungle” primary, meaning all candidates compete—regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters compete in a runoff.
Mr. Collins’s entry could split the Republican vote and aid a Democratic candidate in a state long dominated by the GOP.
Mr. Collins, a conservative from north Georgia, has pushed for months to get the seat that Sen. Johnny Isakson, 74, is leaving at the end of the year because of health problems.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Collins declined to comment but referred to comments Mr. Collins made Sunday on Fox News in which he said, “We’ll have to see where the governor goes with this pick, and then we’ll have a decision to make after that.”
Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler Appointed To US Senate Seat
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has appointed Kelly Loeffler, CEO of institutional Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform Bakkt, to a United States Senate seat.
With the appointment, Loeffler will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who plans to retire at the end of the year, the Washington Post reported on Dec. 4. A person familiar with the matter, shared Loeffler’s remarks with the publication, in which she ostensibly said:
“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump. I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, various party leaders, including President Donald Trump, reportedly pressed Kemp to choose U.S. representative Doug Collins instead, purportedly given his strong support for Trump, gun rights and anti-abortion efforts.
The President and many among his followers are not sold on Loeffler, viewing her as too moderate. Previously, Kemp reportedly met with the President and Loeffler in a bid to obtain Trump’s approval of his pick for the Senate seat but to no avail.
Bakkt’s recent developments
In the meantime, Bitcoin futures open interest on the Bakkt platform hit a new all-time high of $6.5 million on Dec. 3. The reported open interest was a 42% increase from the previous day, which had been an all-time high as well.
Also, Bakkt is planning to launch the first regulated options contract for Bitcoin futures on Dec. 9. The new options product is based on customer feedback, explained Loeffler, and is designed to hedge or gain bitcoin exposure. Bakkt added:
“ICE Futures U.S. has self-certified the contract with the CFTC and we’re excited to leverage the benchmark futures prices and institutional-grade custody to meet the needs for a regulated options contract.”
Georgia’s Senate Pick Calls Herself ‘Pro-Trump’ Despite President’s Rebuff
Governor chose Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler over president’s wishes.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick for interim U.S. senator aligned herself with President Trump and his agenda, despite not being the president’s choice for the position.
Kelly Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman who has never run for office, described herself as “a lifelong conservative, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Trump, pro-military and pro-wall” in her first public comments since being chosen.
She praised the president on the economy and immigration reform and attacked the impeachment process.
“I oppose it. It’s a distraction and a sideshow,” she said at a news conference at the governor’s office, flanked by her husband, Mr. Kemp and about 50 Georgia Republican leaders.
Mr. Kemp officially announced his selection for the seat Wednesday, and Ms. Loeffler will take office in January.
Ms. Loeffler, 49 years old, was the object of criticism from some Trump allies in recent days. Mr. Trump wanted the seat filled by Rep. Doug Collins (R., Ga.), who strongly opposes impeachment.
Raised on an Illinois farm, Ms. Loeffler joined Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange Inc., or ICE, in 2002, when it was an electricity trading platform, and was a longtime executive with the company. In 2004, she married Jeffrey Sprecher, its founder and chief executive. Today the company has grown into a global exchange operator with a market capitalization of more than $50 billion. ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange. In 2018, Ms. Loeffler became CEO of Bakkt, ICE’s cryptocurrency venture. She is co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA team.
Ms. Loeffler’s income and net worth aren’t publicly available. Regulatory filings show that Mr. Sprecher owns a 1.12% stake in ICE, which is worth around $580 million based on the company’s current market capitalization. Mr. Sprecher earned $14.5 million last year in total compensation, according to FactSet.
Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Sprecher have given to many Republicans. Last month, they each donated $100,000 to Mr. Trump’s re-election, according to a person familiar with the contributions. But Ms. Loeffler has donated to some Democrats.
Ms. Loeffler will serve as senator in 2020 while campaigning to hold the job in November’s elections.
Her campaign has gotten off to a rocky start because of the tensions between Mr. Kemp, who is trying to bring more women to the GOP, and President Trump.
On Wednesday, Gov. Kemp urged people who applied for the job but weren’t selected, a group that includes Mr. Collins, “to rally around our new senator, to unite over a shared vision of our future.”
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Gov. Kemp and Ms. Loeffler met secretly with Mr. Trump, but the meeting didn’t go well.
Mr. Collins’s backers questioned Ms. Loeffler’s bona fides. Some urged Mr. Collins, 53, to run against her next year. He has said he hasn’t made up his mind. Others say she has supported pro-abortion groups, a claim she fiercely denied Wednesday.
“I am strongly pro-life,” she said. “The abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral.”
Genevieve Wilson, director of the Georgia Right-to-Life political-action committee, said that her organization would be carefully reviewing Ms. Loeffler’s record and if they find any support for abortion-rights groups, “Georgia Right to Life could not support her.”
In August, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, 74, announced he was leaving at the end of this year because of health problems. Under Georgia law, the governor appoints an interim senator, who must then seek election for the remainder of the term in the next general election.
The vote for the seat soon to be held by Ms. Loeffler will be a “jungle” primary, meaning all candidates compete—regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters compete in a runoff. Whoever wins has to run for a new term in 2022.
Georgia’s population has grown in recent years with an influx of younger people and minorities. Last year, Democrat Stacey Abrams, seeking to become the first African-American woman governor in the U.S., received nearly 49% of the vote compared with just over 50% for Mr. Kemp, who is white. It was the strongest showing by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia since 1998.
With possible Republican infighting ahead, strategists on both sides see an opportunity for Democrats, long underdogs in Georgia.
“If Doug gets into the race with the full-throated support of the president, that is quite a conundrum,” Republican strategist Brian Robinson said.
Democratic political consultant Tharon Johnson said, “Gov. Kemp is showing very bold leadership to make a decision that he feels is best for Georgia and best for him.”
Bakkt Bitcoin Futures Open Interest Hits New All-Time High of $6.54M
Bitcoin (BTC) futures open interest on digital asset platform Bakkt has hit a new all-time high.
According to a Dec. 3 Twitter post published on Dec. 3 by Bakkt Volume Bot — a Twitter account dedicated to reporting Bakkt trading volumes — Monday’s open interest on Bakkt Bitcoin futures reached a new all-time high of $6.5 million.
In futures markets, open interest is the number of open contracts in the market and is often used to indicate the health of the market. When there is a large amount of open interest, new or additional capital is flowing in.
Regularly Breaking Records
The reported open interest is a 42% increase from the previous day, which was an all-time high as well. Last Friday and Saturday saw open interest records of $4.2 million and $4.3 million, respectively.
The platform’s trading volumes have been continuously breaking records since its launch in September. At the end of November, daily volumes on the platform hit a new all-time high of over $42.5 million — or 4,443 BTC at the time.
Also in November, Bakkt’s chief operating officer Adam White announced the firm’s move to include a cash-settled option in an apparent bid to further increase the platform’s popularity among investors. The Intercontinental Exchange — Bakkt’s parent company — later confirmed the launch of the option for Dec. 9.
Bakkt’s management could also soon start influencing United States’ cryptocurrency regulation. As Cointelegraph reported on Dec. 1, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is expected to appoint Bakkt chief executive officer Kelly Loeffler for a United States Senate seat.
Bakkt Launches 1st Regulated BTC Options as CEO Enters US Senate
The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)’s digital asset platform Bakkt has launched the first regulated Bitcoin (BTC) options and cash-settled futures in the United States.
According to an announcement on Dec. 9, Bakkt is now using its physically settled Bitcoin contracts as a benchmark to build complementary products.
Bakkt’s Monthly Futures Contract Will Be A Benchmark For Other New Products
The news was announced in a blog post by Bakkt COO Adam White. The post reads:
“By starting with the physically delivered Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Futures, we have a benchmark contract that provides the foundation for us to develop complementary products based on the needs of our customers.”
First Bitcoin Options Regulated By The CFTC
The two new products include Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Options and Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Cash-Settled Futures.
According to the post, the Bakkt’s monthly options product is the first regulated Bitcoin futures contract regulated by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Price discovery occurs within a federally regulated market and has no exposure to unregulated Bitcoin spot markets, the announcement notes.
The cash-settled futures product is a new contract that will be initially available on ICE Futures Singapore, an approved exchange in Singapore. The contract is based on the settlement price of the benchmark Bakkt Bitcoin monthly future contract and provides an option for participants who are unable to trade our physically delivered contract, the blog post reads.
Bakkt CEO To Enter The U.S. Senate
The news comes after Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler was appointed to a U.S. Senate seat. According to media reports, Loeffler will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who plans to retire at the end of the year.
Bakkt platform is one of the most promising cryptocurrency-related initiatives to date as its physically settled Bitcoin futures have become one of the most talked-about products in crypto.
While the platform reported low volumes at the launch on Sept. 23, Bakkt has continued to grow, gradually gaining momentum on crypto markets. As such, On Dec. 3, Bitcoin futures open interest on Bakkt hit another all-time high of $6.5 million. In late November, Cointelegraph reported on another record for Bitcoin futures trading on Bakkt, which accounted for 5,600 BTC on the day.
Wall St. to Washington: Bakkt Launches New Products, CEO Joins Senate
Earlier this week, institutional Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform Bakkt launched two new financial products: the first United States-regulated BTC options and cash-settled futures. The announcement came just three months after the project went live with its physically delivered futures, following a series of delays.
Meanwhile, the platform’s CEO, Kelly Loeffler, is reportedly going to replace Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson in the U.S. Senate by the end of the year. So what do these new developments mean for Bakkt and the crypto market in general?
What Is Bakkt?
Bakkt (pronounced “backed,” referring to “asset-backed securities”) is a digital assets platform created by the Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE, an Atlanta-based operator of 23 major international exchanges that include the New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest exchange.
It was first announced on Aug. 3, 2018, when ICE revealed its plans to create a platform “that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.” The concept was formulated over five years, as both of Bakkt’s co-founders, Loeffler and her husband Jeff Sprecher — who is also the founder, chairman and CEO of ICE — said in a Fortune profile.
The list of Bakkt’s allies includes Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group and Starbucks, all of which have invested in the project. The platform’s backers also include an array of Wall Street players such as Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Susquehanna International Group, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures and Pantera Capital.
Bakkt’s main feature is physically delivered BTC futures contracts, which the platform actively marketed ahead of launch. Futures represent an agreement to buy or sell an asset on a specific future date at a specific price — an important risk management tool for volatile markets such as crypto.
Although, it is not an entirely new concept for the crypto market, as BTC futures have been traded since December 2017 on two major U.S.-regulated exchanges — the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. However, the offers of both Chicago exchanges are settled in cash, while the ICE-backed platform debuted physical one-day BTC futures contracts.
Bakkt’s Launch — Underwhelming At First, Eventually Picked Up Pace
Nine months out from its scheduled launch date, Bakkt finally commenced services on Sep. 23, 2019 after a number of delays. However, despite the prolonged anticipation and analysts’ bullish predictions, the project saw just 71 BTC (about $700,000 at the time) traded in the first 24 hours.
Nevertheless, the situation soon began to change, as the trading volume of Bitcoin futures soared to 224 contracts on Oct. 9 — 796% higher than the previous day. In two weeks, the all-time high rose to 452 BTC futures contracts per day. By the end of the month, Bakkt experienced yet another boost in volume that drastically dwarfed previous developments: On Oct. 26, the platform traded 1,183 Bitcoin futures contracts, or roughly $11 million, in a single day.
Around the same time, Bakkt decided to capitalize on the good news, with the firm announcing its plans to launch the first regulated options contracts for Bitcoin on Dec. 9. In the accompanying press release, the company’s Chief Operating Officer Adam White argued that the physical Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Futures that were launched back in September produce a benchmark contract that “provides the foundation for us to develop complementary products based on the needs of our customers.” He added that the options contracts will comprise of capital efficiency, cash or physical settlement, low fees and European-style options.
New Options: What’s On Offer To Investors?
Indeed, on Dec. 9, Bakkt unveiled two new Bitcoin investment products: Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Options and Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Cash-Settled Futures. According to the platform, the monthly options product is the first Bitcoin futures contract regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As per the announcement, price discovery occurs within a federally regulated market and has no exposure to unregulated Bitcoin spot markets.
“Cash settled futures products simply net the difference at expiry with one party receiving that cash difference,” as John Todaro, director of digital currency research at TradeBlock — a New York-based data provider — told Cointelegraph, elaborating:
“In this way, cash settled futures are often seen as simpler instruments, mostly for speculative purposes, have less delivery costs/warehousing costs associated with them, but in some cases may not be seen as the best instrument for parties that actually need the physical asset for hedging or other (like a bitcoin miner for instance may need to deliver the physical bitcoin). In both cases, futures contracts require the two parties to transact at a certain price at a future date.”
The cash-settled futures product, in turn, is a new contract that will be initially available on ICE Futures Singapore, an approved exchange located in the island city-state. The contract is based on the settlement price of the benchmark Bakkt Bitcoin monthly future contract and provides an “alternative for participants who are unable to trade our physically delivered contract,” the blog post reads. Todaro explained to Cointelegraph:
“Options are similar to futures in that they are derivative contracts, but they have more nuance to them (a whole host of strategies can be built on calls and puts) and do not require the two parties to transact. A buyer has the right (the option) to transact but not the obligation to do so. The reason the buyer may not want to exercise the contract is if the price is no longer in his/her favor — however this person is paying a premium for this right.”
When asked whether the new financial products are likely to attract more institutional investments, experts warn that there are more factors to take into account, namely liquidity. Juan M. Villaverde, chief crypto analyst at Weiss Ratings, told Cointelegraph:
“Over time it’s likely to be institutions like the CME and Bakkt that are needed to create the necessary infrastructure to attract institutional investors to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. But they are not, by themselves, enough. Reason: The biggest struggle for Bitcoin futures has been lack of liquidity. Without liquidity, demand for crypto assets from institutions will continue constrained, at least in the near term.”
Todaro told Cointelegraph that while the cash-settled futures product is “similar to their physically settled offering in terms of attracting institutional interest”, a regulated platform for trading Bitcoin options contracts “would likely attract greater institutional interest.” So is that good for Bitcoin’s price? Not necessarily, experts say. “The primary benefit of options and futures markets is to help balance and dampen volatility,” Villaverde explains:
“That’s good for long-term individual investors and commercial players. But it may not get a resounding cheer from crypto traders who are attracted to crypto assets precisely because of their high volatility.”
Todaro is also skeptical in this regard, as he thinks that the new financial products might create more space for bear action instead of a flood of investments into the top cryptocurrency. He told Cointelegraph:
“While an increase in bitcoin product offerings would bring about greater institutional involvement in the space, it is not exactly clear that these institutions would be buyers of the asset class.”
Notably, more mainstream-oriented trading platforms are looking into cryptocurrency financial products. By introducing Bitcoin options in December, Bakkt has outpaced the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, who are planning to launch options on Bitcoin futures on Jan. 13, 2020. However, the CME’s offering is still likely to be more popular once it goes live, as Todaro suggests:
“While Bakkt would have an initial advantage, the CME maintains a stronger presence in the derivatives market and so institutional traders and investors are already very comfortable with their platform. Currently, Bakkt’s bitcoin futures product does around 10% of the daily notional trading volume that the CME’s bitcoin futures product does. As such, the CME remains the higher volume platform and I would expect this to continue as similar bitcoin products launch.”
Such competition suggests that “this risk management problem is well on its way to being solved,” as Travis Kling, chief investment officer at crypto asset management firm Ikigai, told Cointelegraph, “Just one more sign that Bitcoin is growing up.”
Bakkt’s CEO Off To The U.S. Senate — Healthy For Crypto?
Bakkt might make more official announcements before the year’s end. On Dec. 4, the Washington Post reported that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to a seat in the U.S. Senate. Thus, the Bakkt CEO will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who plans to retire at the end of the year.
Consequently, Loeffler will step down from the digital assets platform. The Intercontinental Exchange has thanked Loeffler for her work with Bakkt, according to a statement by Josh King, a spokesman for ICE. Loeffler’s upcoming entry to the political scene is a positive sign for the crypto industry at large, Todaro shared in a conversation with Cointelegraph:
“Kelly Loeffler obviously understands the space and is a proponent of it, and so, where applicable on matters before her in the Senate, I would imagine she would be a proponent of bitcoin and other digital currency platforms.”
Additionally, Bakkt has some concrete plans to facilitate its crypto expansion into the mainstream in 2020 — a consumer app developed in conjunction with the “flagship retailer” Starbucks. According to the company, the app will help consumers “unlock the value of digital assets, as well as ways in which they can transact or track them.”
Bitcoin Futures Provider Bakkt Names Mike Blandina As New CEO, Adam White As President
Bitcoin warehouse and Intercontinental Exchange subsidiary Bakkt officially has a new head.
The company announced Monday that chief product officer Mike Blandina has become the new CEO of the company, effective December 20. He succeeds outgoing CEO Kelly Loeffler, who was recently appointed to become the next Senator from the state of Georgia. Adam White, the company’s chief operating officer, will serve as the company’s president.
Blandina joined Bakkt in April, following stints at PayPal and Google. He comes from a background in payments tech, having been director of engineering at Google’s Wallet project.
White, who was one of Coinbase’s earliest employees, joined Bakkt in October 2018.
Loeffler has run Bakkt since its formal announcement in August 2018, overseeing the company as it worked to launch its physically-delivered bitcoin futures products, the first such in the U.S.
Under her tenure, Bakkt also announced it would be launching options on top of its existing futures, as well as cash-settled bitcoin futures through a Singapore-based affiliate.
Both of those products went live earlier this month.
Her successor, Blandina, will continue to oversee Bakkt’s expansion, including the rollout of a consumer-facing retail app meant to facilitate small-item purchases using bitcoin. Starbucks, which was announced as a research partner when Bakkt was first launched in 2018, will be a launch partner for this app.
Bakkt is also expanding its warehouse efforts, recently naming Galaxy Digital as a client for the latter’s new bitcoin funds.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that he would appoint Loeffler to fill current Senator Johnny Isakson’s seat at the beginning of December, making her the first crypto company executive to serve in the upper chamber of the U.S. legislature. In her introductory remarks, Loeffler praised U.S. president Donald Trump, who wanted Congressman Doug Collins to fill the seat, but did not mention bitcoin or cryptocurrencies.
Loeffler will be sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2020. In a statement released the day her appointment was made official, ICE said she would have to step down from her CEO position during the transition.
Notably, Loeffler appears the first ICE executive to hold a “CEO” title at one of the exchange’s subsidiaries. While ICE itself has a CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher (Loeffler’s husband), its subsidiaries appear to be run by presidents or other C-level executives, including ICE Futures US (Trabue Bland), ICE Clear US (Hester Serafini), ICE Data Services (Lynn Martin) and ICE Futures Singapore (Lucas Schmeddes).
Correction (Dec. 23, 2019, 14:20 UTC): An earlier version of this article said Mike Blandina would become Bakkt’s president. He has been named CEO, with Adam White serving as president.
Former Bakkt CEO Sworn Into Senate, Casts 1st Vote To Support Trump
Kelly Loeffler, former CEO at the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)-backed crypto trading platform Bakkt, has been sworn into the United States Senate.
In a Jan. 6 tweet, Loeffler announced that she was sworn into the U.S. Senate by Mike Pence, the Senate’s chief officer, to become Georgia’s newest Senator.
Loeffler casts first vote to support Trump’s pickto lead the Small Business Administration
In the announcement, Loeffler said that she had already cast her first vote to support U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration, an autonomous U.S. government agency designed to assist small businesses in the country.
As reported, Loeffler is replacing Senator Johnny Isakson, 75, who stepped down in December 2019 due to health issues.
Following the appointment to the U.S. Senate in early December, the 49-year-old businesswoman has reportedly been criticized by Trump supporters as “too moderate and inexperienced.” In a brief interview with Time magazine, Loeffler said that she had not spoken to Trump since being appointed. She said:
“I know I have to earn the trust and support of the president […] And I’m going to work very hard to do that through my actions and my votes, and I’m confident that that will happen.”
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Loeffler allegedly described herself as “pro-Trump.” Specifically, a person familiar with the matter shared that Loeffler said:
“I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump. I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”
Is Loeffler Pro-Bitcoin As Well?
While Loeffler’s page on the official website of the U.S. Senate does not specify the name of the “finance firm” where Loeffler served as CEO, the new Georgia’s Senator has emerged as a leader of one of the most ever anticipated Bitcoin (BTC)-related initiatives, ICE’s Bakkt. Loeffler has been at the forefront of the Bitcoin futures trading platform since its announcement in August 2018 to record the launch of Bakkt in September 2019.
Cointelegraph contacted Loeffler’s press team to learn more about the Senator’s stance towards crypto-related initiatives in the state of Georgia but has not received a response at press time. As the state of Georgia introduced a bill that proposes to accept crypto as a valid form of payment for state taxes and licenses in February 2018, the state appears not to have posted an update on the matter to date.
Meanwhile, President Trump is known for not being a fan of Bitcoin. In July 2019, Trump delivered his first ever comments about Bitcoin, claiming that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not money, while their value is based on thin air.
Kelly Loeffler’s Husband Jeffrey Sprecher Is Chairman And Chief Executive of Intercontinental Exchange
A new U.S. senator whose spouse both runs and owns a minority stake in a major exchange operator will help oversee one of the company’s main federal regulators, setting up a potential conflict of interest.
Republican leadership assigned interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.), whose husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman and chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The committee oversees the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates markets for derivatives that trade on ICE exchanges. The committee also oversees agriculture, logging, forestry and nutrition programs.
“I have worked hard to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Senate’s ethics rules and will continue to do so every day,” Ms. Loeffler said in a statement. “I will recuse myself if needed on a case by case basis.”
Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) said in a statement Tuesday that Ms. Loeffler, who was raised on a farm in Illinois, is “a welcome addition to the Committee, and I look forward to her participation.”
Gregory Gelzinis, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, called her committee assignment “a cause for concern.”
“It’s particularly important for her to either say that she’ll be recusing herself from that piece of the ag committee’s jurisdiction or providing some sort of clear commitment to the public that this isn’t going to get in the way of her conducting official business,” he said.
ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange in addition to a host of other platforms around the world where assets ranging from crude oil and cocoa futures to credit-default swaps are traded. It is the second-largest exchange operator by market capitalization, after CME Group.
Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Sprecher were married in 2004. Regulatory filings show that Mr. Sprecher owns a 1.1% stake in ICE that is worth almost $600 million, based on its current market price.
She joined ICE in 2002 and ran the company’s investor relations, communications and marketing for 15 years before becoming chief executive of Bakkt, a cryptocurrency trading platform owned by ICE.
CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert said last year that he believes bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency, falls within his agency’s jurisdiction.
Ms. Loeffler’s appointment comes at a time when the agriculture committee is working on legislation to reauthorize the CFTC. The committee’s oversight functions also include approving nominations for CFTC commissioners.
According to its annual report, a number of ICE’s exchanges are “subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.” In addition to day-to-day oversight and enforcement, the CFTC’s rule-making agenda can have a major impact on the company’s operations.
The CFTC is overseen by the agriculture committees in the Senate and House of Representatives because futures exchanges were originally founded in the 19th century as marketplaces for wheat and other agricultural commodities. Politicians from farm states have retained their role in CFTC oversight even as those exchanges evolved and the agency gained jurisdiction over a broad array of complex financial markets.
A Month After Launch, Bakkt Bitcoin Options Volumes Are Lackluster
Little more than a month after their launch, Bitcoin (BTC) options contracts on the Intercontinental Exchange’s digital asset platform Bakkt appear to have seen sluggish uptake.
The latest available reports for the contract, Jan. 24 and Jan. 27, reveal that 11 days have elapsed since the last trade.
Traders Bide Their Time
As reported, Bakkt launched its new BTC options contract in early December, shortly after rolling out a cash-settled Bitcoin (BTC) futures offering in November.
Options are derivatives that are designed to provide traders with additional flexibility hedge against an asset’s price swings in either direction: thus an options contract offers them the chance to purchase either a right to buy (a call option) or sell (a put option) the given asset at a specified “strike price” determined on or before the contract’s expiration date.
Both the new options contract and cash-settled futures followed upon Bakkt’s existing physically delivered Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Futures contract — a pioneering product that was the first in the industry to give futures traders direct exposure to the underlying cryptocurrency.
As reported, the physically-settled futures contract had met with underwhelming volumes in its early days — a fact that was immediately unfavorably compared with the fiat-settled BTC futures on CME, which first went to market in December 2017.
Yet uptake for the product eventually picked up, in correlation with a period of volatility in Bitcoin’s spot market valuation at the time (late October-November 2019).
Aside from Bakkt, market participants including Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx and CME have both launched or plan to launch Bitcoin options contracts this year.
Bakkt Touts New Payment Integration With Starbucks
Some users of the Starbucks mobile app are now being presented with “Bakkt Cash” as a payment option.
The move seemingly coincides with the bitcoin derivatives provider’s long-awaited focus on consumer-facing services and the announcement earlier today of a whopping $300 million funding round.
However, Starbucks says the Bakkt Cash option is only in limited beta for now.
“We are currently conducting a limited test for our customers, using the Bakkt payment method,” a Starbucks spokesperson told CoinDesk. “Customers can see Bakkt as an option but the test is only available at this time.”
In a statement, Starbucks confirmed it remains a “strategic launch partner” for Bakkt’s dollar-denominated digital wallet.
“We anticipate that a range of cryptocurrencies will gain traction with customers and, through our work with Bakkt, we will be uniquely positioned to constantly consider and offer customers new and unique ways to pay seamlessly, at Starbucks,” the coffee chain said.
Bakkt President Adam White Announced The Integration On Twitter:
Although Bakkt declined to offer an official statement about the Starbucks partnership, the company’s Monday blog post describes plans to put loyalty points and bitcoin in the same conversation. Bakkt has discussed offering loyalty point programs and crypto payments through a single app since at least February, when it first moved to acquire loyalty solutions provider Bridge2.
“At Bakkt, we take a broad view of digital assets,” the company wrote. “Whether it’s miles from your favorite airline, loyalty points from the local grocery store, or bitcoin you’ve purchased, the Bakkt app enables you to aggregate all of these assets into a single digital wallet.”
In response to the growing threat of coronavirus in the U.S., Starbucks is temporarily moving to a takeout-only model, CNBC reported Sunday.
ICE Spent ‘Nearly $300M’ Helping Bakkt Acquire Loyalty Firm Bridge2
Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company to Bakkt, spent close to $300 million helping the bitcoin warehouse acquire loyalty rewards provider Bridge2 Solutions, CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said Thursday.
The revelation came during a discussion of the financial strength of ICE, the parent company to several major trading venues, include the New York Stock Exchange.
Sprecher said during ICE’s Q1 earnings call the company had “opportunistically repurchased shares,” spending $300 million at $92 per share during the quarter while maintaining the company’s leverage, measured as the ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA).
“We also spent nearly $300 million helping Bakkt to acquire Bridge2 solutions,” Sprecher said. “Yet, our leverage was still at 2.3 times which is a complete testament to the strength of the cash flows of this business.”
Bakkt announced it would acquire Bridge2 in February, while simultaneously raising a $300 million Series B funding round. The round closed last month, as did the acquisition. The terms of the deal were outlined in ICE’s quarterly filing with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission, also released Thursday.
It’s unclear whether the $300 million represents the total sum of the acquisition or how much came from Bakkt’s Series B funders, which include Microsoft’s M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital and Pantera Capital.
The company did say in its February press release that some of the funds from the round would go toward the acquisition.
Aside from two references to Bridge2, Bakkt was not mentioned during the earnings call. No analysts asked any direct questions about the subsidiary, which has been facilitating trading of bitcoin futures and options contracts over the past several months.
Nor were there any questions about Mike Blandina, who stepped down as Bakkt’s CEO last week just four months after taking the reins. Blandina was succeeded on an interim basis by ICE’s vice president for M&A and integration, David Clifton. There has so far been no word a permanent replacement CEO.
The lack of questions comes in stark contrast to ICE’s last earnings call in February, when a number of analysts asked about ICE’s role with Bakkt. That call came right after ICE announced it was acquiring Bridge2, and Sprecher said at the time the move could open a potential $1 trillion market.
Bakkt is working on its consumer-focused app. The company has rolled out an integration with Starbucks, allowing some of the coffee chain’s app users to pay for caffeine using “Bakkt Cash.”
No One Has Traded Bitcoin Options On Bakkt For Over A Month: Deribit Continues To Dominate
Bitcoin options traders have completely deserted Bakkt, with its volume and open interest flatlining at $0 since June 15.
* The Intercontinental Exchange’s subsidiary launched its bitcoin options market in December 2019.
* Open interest for the exchange’s options market has suffered complete inactivity before, but the current 38-day streak dwarfs other periods.
* Bakkt’s options volume has also dropped to $0 since April 23, according to Skew.
* Bakkt declined to comment when contacted by CoinDesk.
* The record for daily options volume in Bakkt is $528,000, set on January 8.
* According to Skew, 92% of bitcoin options trading volume is controlled by Panama-based exchange Deribit, which reported $101 million in volume Tuesday.
Record-high Bakkt Bitcoin Delivery Exposes Institutional Frenzy For BTC
Bakkt recorded an all-time high Bitcoin delivery in October, demonstrating a clear spike in institutional demand for BTC.
Data from Arcane Research shows Bakkt Bitcoin exchange saw another record-high month from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20. This follows a noticeable rise in institutional demand for Bitcoin (BTC) from public companies in recent months.
Bakkt, the digital asset payment platform and derivatives exchange, is tailored for institutional investors in the U.S. It is operated by Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.
When the volume of the Bakkt Bitcoin futures market increases, which physically settles Bitcoin contracts, it typically demonstrates growth in institutional appetite for digital assets.
As shown above, Cointelegraph and Digital Assets Data reflect a significant surge in futures volumes across multiple exchanges in the month of October.
According to the analysts at Arcane Research, 400 BTC contracts are set to expire in October at Bakkt. Month-over-month, the data shows a 14% jump from September.
Bakkt’s volume and open interest are important in gauging institutional activity because it is one of the three widely utilized platforms by institutions alongside LMAX Digital and CME.
As such, Arcane Research said that the substantial increase in futures contract deliveries on Bakkt signifies rising institutional demand. The researchers noted:
“Another ATH BTC delivery on Bakkt this month. Over 400 BTC futures contracts were held to expiry in October, an increase of 14% from September. With another record-breaking month on Bakkt, the demand for bitcoin is increasing among institutional investors.”
Atop the high trading activity on Bakkt, LMAX Digital and CME are also continuously posting large demand.
Data from Skew shows that LMAX Digital remains the biggest spot exchange in the global market by volume. According to Skew, LMAX Digital processed $135.6 million worth of BTC in the last 24 hours. This exceeded the daily volume of Coinbase, Kraken, and other major retail-focused exchanges.
Since LMAX Digital primarily facilitates trades for institutions, the exchange surpassing Coinbase depicts the current institutional landscape of Bitcoin. There is strong demand coming from institutions, especially following recent high profile investments of Square and MicroStrategy.
Similar to Bakkt, the CME Bitcoin futures market has also seen an increase in open interest. Since Oct. 2, following the monthly expiry for September, CME’s Bitcoin open interest rose from $345 million to $561 million.
Industry executives and high-net-worth investors in the cryptocurrency market expect the trend of rising institutional appetite for Bitcoin to continue.
Tyler Winklevoss, the billionaire Bitcoin investor and the co-founder of Gemini, said Bitcoin is steadily evolving into a corporate treasury asset.
When MicroStrategy announced that it acquired $425 million worth of BTC, the company emphasized that it considers BTC as the firm’s primary treasury asset. Winklevoss wrote:
“Bitcoin is on its way to becoming a corporate treasury asset. Michael Saylor and Jack are leading the charge. Soon many other companies will follow, and eventually central banks. This is just the beginning.”
Bakkt May Go Public Through Rumored $2B Merger
Regulated Bitcoin futures platform Bakkt is reportedly eyeing going public through a rumored merger.
Bakkt, a cryptocurrency trading platform majority-owned by Intercontinental Exchange, is rumored to be deep in discussions to go public through a merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings.
On Jan. 7, Bloomberg published a story citing anonymous sources “with knowledge of the matter” who claimed Bakkt is already in advanced talks regarding the merger, predicting that an official announcement on the matter could be published as soon as next week.
The sources estimate the combined entity could be valued at more than $2 billion, should the merger be completed.
VPC is a special purpose acquisition company closely affiliated with Victory Park Capital — a Securities and Exchange Commission-registered alternative investment firm. VPC chief executive John Martin has described the firm’s core strategy as seeking to “identify, partner with and help grow a business in the fintech sector.”
Bakkt launched in 2019 and is an institutional-focused, regulated platform offering “physically-delivered” Bitcoin futures contracts. The exchange’s futures drove $286 million in trade volume over the past week.
Bakkt’s founding CEO and outgoing United States Senator, Kelly Loeffler, lost Georgia’s run-off election on Wednesday.
Bakkt Crypto Exchange To Debut On Stock Markets Through SPAC
ICE’s institutional exchange, Bakkt, will launch on stock markets at a possible $2.1 billion valuation.
The Intercontinental Exchange, the owner the New York Stock Exchange and institutional cryptocurrency exchange Bakkt, announced a deal that would see its crypto arm listed on the stock markets.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Bakkt is set to merge with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, trading under the ticker VIH. VPC is a so-called “special purpose acquisition company,” or SPAC. It is a shell company whose only purpose is to buy or merge with another company and allow it to be listed on the stock markets without going through the lengthy and expensive process of an initial public offering.
Bakkt is expected to be valued at $2.1 billion after completing the merger. The exchange will also raise an additional $532 million to support the development of Bakkt App, a retail-centric wallet and rewards app.
A Bakkt spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the merger is set to be completed in the second quarter of 2021. The combined company will be renamed as Bakkt Holdings, Inc. and will be listed on NYSE. The representative also said that Bakkt is now focused on delivering the app in March.
Rumors of the acquisition surfaced earlier in January, as reported by Cointelegraph. Bakkt has seen an uptick in volume this year, posting several consecutive records. Nonetheless, it has a much smaller crypto market presence than its rival CME.
Eye-Popping Projection For $3T Crypto Market Underpins Bakkt Deal
Cryptocurrencies could grow fivefold by 2025 into a $3 trillion market, under new projections from Bakkt Holdings, the digital-asset financial firm.
Bakkt published the estimate as part of an investor presentation released Monday in connection with its new plan to go public via a merger with Victory Park Capital, a special-purpose acquisition company. Bakkt is majority-owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., which also owns the New York Stock Exchange. The deal would give Bakkt an enterprise value of about $2.1 billion, according to a press release.
The underlying assumptions behind the transaction show just how bullish investors, entrepreneurs and financial executives have become over the past year on the fast-paced digital-asset industry, especially after prices for bitcoin (BTC, -6.67%), the largest cryptocurrency, quadrupled in 2020.
Just last week, the industry’s total market capitalization surpassed $1 trillion for the first time, though a swoon over the past few days in prices for bitcoin and other digital assets has since trimmed the total value to about $931 billion, according to the website CoinGecko.
Bakkt currently runs a market for cryptocurrency derivatives including bitcoin futures, but in March the company plans to release a new consumer application that could allow users to manage digital assets and use them for spending and peer-to-peer payments alongside cash and rewards miles.
“It’s these shifts that we are leveraging for the benefit of both customer and merchants, truly unlocking a massive market by empowering the monetization of digital assets,” Gavin Michael, former head of technology for Citigroup’s global consumer bank, told investors Monday on a conference call, according to a transcript.
In the investor presentation, Bakkt estimated that its revenue, net of transaction-related expenses, could grow by an average 75% per year to $515 million by 2025. The company is expected to turn cash-flow positive by 2023.
According to one slide in the investor presentation, Bakkt operates in a “massive serviceable addressable market” that was worth about $1.6 trillion in 2020, including $564 billion for the “notional value” of cryptocurrency.
By 2025, the presentation estimates, the company’s overall target market would increase to $5.1 trillion, including $3 trillion of cryptocurrency.
Bakkt Has No Plans To Support XRP, Says CEO
Bakkt’s CEO did not mention whether the company decided to stay away from XRP due to Ripple’s ongoing legal issues.
Bakkt, one of the biggest cryptocurrency companies in the United States, will not support XRP as part of its further product development, according to the CEO.
On Jan. 11, Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael sat down with the Axios Re:Cap podcast to discuss the mainstream adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital assets. Michael said that Bakkt is planning to roll out support for a number of altcoins on its platform in the future, but XRP is not one of them.
Michael declined to comment on whether the company decided to stay away from XRP due to Ripple’s legal issues sparked by a lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Just not on our platform,” Michael stated, adding:
“We entered the crypto space through Bitcoin, and that was our first currency we’ve made available. We have others that are scheduled to come on board as part of the product development. But XRP is not available.”
Michael’s remarks on XRP follow the official announcement of Bakkt’s plans to go public. On Jan. 11, the Intercontinental Exchange, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange and the owner of Bakkt, announced a merger deal with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings to allow Bakkt to launch on stock markets.
Meanwhile, Ripple is fighting the SEC’s $1.3 billion lawsuit brought against the firm in late December. On Jan. 8, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse strongly denied the “SEC’s unproven allegations” and claimed his firm is “on the right side of the facts and of history.”
In the midst of Ripple’s legal problems, many crypto companies have decided to delist XRP. On Jan. 6, crypto wallet provider and trading platform Blockchain.com announced it was removing XRP, following in the steps of Coinbase, Binance.US, OKCoin and others. However, some companies like Uphold preferred to keep XRP on their platforms until the SEC lawsuit is resolved.
Crypto Is Going Public: Timing Is Key As Bakkt Secures NYSE Listing
As Bakkt prepares to be listed on the NYSE, even more crypto companies could be going public in the future.
Digital assets marketplace Bakkt is set to go public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2021, which could pave the way for more cryptocurrency service providers to follow suit.
The Intercontinental Exchange announced on Jan. 11 that its cryptocurrency marketplace Bakkt would soon be listed on the NYSE public stock market. This will be done through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings.
The shell company will be used to merge with Bakkt in order for it to be listed on the stock market without having to undertake an initial public offering.
Initial reports suggest that Bakkt will be valued at over $2 billion after the merger, and the exchange intends to raise a further $532 million to bankroll the ongoing development of its application, a wallet and rewards app targeting retail users, which is expected to be launched in March.
The company has indicated that the merger is expected to be wrapped up in the second quarter of 2021. This will then see the newly formed Bakkt Holdings Inc. listed on the NYSE.
A lot has been made of the investor presentation that was submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The document outlines the potential for the cryptocurrency market to be valued at $3 billion by 2025, underpinning the potential value of the space in the coming years. The total cryptocurrency market capitalization topped $1 trillion for the first time in January 2021.
Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael told Cointelegraph that the merger makes sense, given the amount of capital that has already flowed into the cryptocurrency space and the potential growth it predicts over the next three years:
“Bakkt and VPC believe there is enormous potential in building a marketplace for the nearly $2T of digital assets that exist today and the many others that will be created because a marketplace such as this exists for both brands and consumers.”
Michael added that the merger will give Bakkt access to the necessary capital to expand and provide more opportunities for consumers to unlock trillions of dollars held across various digital assets. The company also expects to benefit from the brand recognition that will come from becoming a publicly-traded company.
A Sign Of Things To Come?
Mati Greenspan, crypto analyst and founder of advisory firm Quantum Economics, told Cointelegraph that the timing of the merger and Bakkt’s decision to go public is not surprising, given that the cryptocurrency markets are currently booming.
Noting that the move will no doubt be lucrative for Bakkt, Greenspan also agreed that the push to go public is an indication that the traditional finance sector is beginning to recognize cryptocurrency and blockchain-focused businesses as mature and valuable: “It’s a reflection of where these companies are in their life cycle and how it coincides with the readiness of the traditional market to accept them.”
While some major institutional investors like MicroStrategy have made waves across the industry with their billion-dollar purchases of Bitcoin (BTC) in recent months, Greenspan highlighted the efficacy of diversifying investment in the space. While holding cryptocurrencies is a direct way to gain exposure to the ecosystem, Greenspan said investing in the right companies could potentially be more beneficial:
“There is a natural appetite for all investors to be as diverse as possible. Just as one whose portfolio consists of gold would also invest in mining stocks or an oil tycoon would invest within their own industry. Many times investing in a company directly can be more lucrative than buying a token whose value may be unknown.”
Joel Edgerton, chief operating officer of U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer, told Cointelegraph that the timing of the initial public offering was opportune, given the current market highs and a strong interest in cryptocurrencies.
He also offered an alternative stance on the reasons behind the ongoing surge, suggesting that small investors and independent firms are driving the cryptocurrency boom: “Coinbase and Bakkt are taking advantage of the IPO window to allow their investors an exit event and use the subsequent publicity of their early moves to strengthen their brands.”
Edgerton also believes in the propensity of smart investors to fund companies involved in the cryptocurrency space without actually buying BTC or other altcoins. The lack of options to gain widespread exposure to cryptocurrency also plays a role:
“There is a definite appetite for investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency space by investing in crypto companies, while not directly holding cryptocurrency assets. […] Purchasing shares and indirectly profiting from the growth in the industry is definitely attractive. Since there is still no easy-to-purchase ETF or mutual fund for crypto, then crypto companies become a proxy cryptocurrency investment.”
Ben Caselin, head of research and strategy for digital asset exchange AAX, told Cointelegraph that Bakkt’s move does not necessarily reflect recognition from the wider financial industry. In contrast to the sentiments of Greenspan and Edgerton, Caselin also highlighted the fact that shareholders of Bakkt, when it is finally publicly traded, will be banking on the assumption that the exchange is successful in the future. While this is intrinsically tied into the cryptocurrency markets, Caselin draws a clear line between investing directly into cryptocurrencies and exchanges:
“It’s important to understand that investing in a cryptocurrency exchange is not a replacement for holding actual digital assets or trading futures. It is, in principle, a way to gain exposure to the wider industry, but more specifically, holding Coinbase or shares in Bakkt rests on the assumption that this particular exchange will fare well in the years to come.”
The likes of Bakkt and Coinbase have seemingly gained a headstart in the race to access public funding and publicity as they look to build on their current offerings.
Despite Bitcoin hitting new all-time highs on separate occasions in recent weeks, Edgerton believes that the space is still in its youth, and investment from the wider public will become a key driver of growth over the next decade: “IPOs are obviously a major source of funding, and a successful IPO should also encourage VCs to invest in the next major crypto unicorn.”
Greenspan also sees more billion-dollar deals on the horizon for the cryptocurrency space, while suggesting that some of these might just be done using the nascent technology powering the future of finance: “As the industry grows, there will be many more crypto-related mega-deals. Perhaps one day soon, all IPOs, acquisitions and mergers will happen using distributed ledger technology.”
Bakkt Digital Wallet, For Bitcoin To Starbucks Points, Goes Live After Long Delay
The launch of its flagship consumer product was originally expected for early 2020.
Bakkt is launching its digital wallet app with companies such as Starbucks among its roster of merchant partners.
* The App Drew 500,000 Users In Its Invitation-Only Trial Run Prior To Its Public Launch Tuesday, Bakkt Said In A Press Release.
* The App Was Announced In October 2019, With Plans To Launch In The First Half Of 2020.
* The Covid-19 Pandemic Appears To Have Scuttled Bakkt’s Original Timeline, Given The App’s Focus On The Hospitality And Travel Sectors.
* Bakkt Is Aiming To Aggregate Cryptocurrency Holdings With Other Digital Assets Such As Airline Miles, Gift Cards And Loyalty Points.
* “Customers Can Now Use Bakkt To Reload Their Starbucks Card Through The Starbucks App For Ios,” Bakkt Said.
* Other Partners Include Best Buy, Choice Hotels, Fiserv And Golfnow.
Bakkt Launches Payments App As Institutions Compete For Crypto Assets
Bakkt believes its new crypto payments app will unlock more than $1 trillion worth of digital assets for commerce.
Major financial institutions are expanding their cryptocurrency services, with Bakkt launching its digital asset payments application for the general public.
Bakkt was launched by Intercontinental Exchange in 2018, with the firm offering Bitcoin futures contracts to accredited investors exclusively. The Bakkt App is the firm’s first retail-facing crypto initiative.
Bakkt’s app was trialed by 500,000 users invited to participate in its Early Access Program in late 2020. The firm is also conducting a $1 million giveaway to encourage people to download the platform.
Launched on March 30, the payments app allows users to manage Bitcoin and other digital assets, including loyalty points and vouchers, to make purchases. More than 75 major brands are offering discounted gift cards to purchasers who use the Bakkt app, including Choice Hotels, GolfNow, and Best Buy.
Users can also manage their Starbucks Card balance through the platform. Karl Hebert Starbucks’ VP of global card, commerce, and payment, said:
“Starbucks is proud to be an innovation partner with Bakkt. Our teams worked closely together as Bakkt sought input in developing a unique and trusted payment experience that enables customers to unlock the value of their digital assets in the form of US dollars.”
“We’re thrilled to bring the Bakkt App to the public as a step along our journey to expand digital asset access to all,” he added.
In the announcement, Bakkt stated the application is intended to enable “consumers and merchants to unlock the value of $1.2 trillion in digital assets” by incentivizing their use in commerce: “The Bakkt App is designed to amplify consumer spending, reduce payment costs, and bolster merchant loyalty programs.”
The payments platform appears to have first been conceived as a partnership between Bakkt and Stabucks in 2019, with Bakkt determining it would release the platform as a standalone app the following year.
The app’s launch comes as competition between financial institutions is heating up in the crypto asset sector, with PayPal rolling out crypto payments for 29 million merchants and Visa unveiling plans for USDC to be exchanged across its credit card network earlier this week.
Goldman Sachs is also moving to expand its cryptocurrency services, with a leaked memo revealing the creation of a Digital Assets Group within its private wealth management division. The group will be tasked with advising clients on digital assets and developing crypto investment products.
Google Pay To Support Bakkt Debit Card
The crypto exchange also chose Google Cloud as its preferred cloud service provider.
Crypto exchange Bakkt said its virtual Visa debit card is now available for use on Google Pay online and in stores.
* Cryptocurrency balances will be converted to fiat to enable transactions to occur, Bakkt said in a statement Friday.
* Bakkt’s Google Pay support follows in the footsteps of Coinbase, which rolled out Apple Pay and Google Pay support for its Coinbase Cards earlier this year.
* The Alpharetta, Ga.-based company, which last month received approval to go public from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, also said it will use Google Cloud as its preferred cloud service as it develops artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities.
* Bakkt will build new analytics and geolocation functionality on its platform utilizing Google Cloud tools as well, Bakkt said. Insights generated will expand loyalty redemption options for customers and provide Bakkt partners with consumer behavior data.
* “This partnership is a testament to Bakkt’s strong position in the digital asset marketplace, to empower consumers to enjoy their digital assets in a real-time, secure, reliable manner,” Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael said in a press release. “Additionally, partnering with Google Cloud will enable us to continue to build a best-in-class, innovative platform that can undoubtedly scale to meet the needs of millions of users.”
Bakkt Sheds More Than 6% On Its First Day Of Public Trading
The price of BKKT contracted by more than 6% during its first day of public trading.
Bakkt (BKKT), an institutional and retail-facing digital asset platform founded by Intercontinental Exchange, has suffered a drawdown of -6.4% after closing a volatile first day of trading as a publicly listed company.
After launching on the New York Stock Exchange at $9.45 on Monday morning, BKKT rose by roughly 3.3% up to $9.77 during its first 30 minutes of trading. However, traders quickly moved to take profits, causing prices to slump by -9.5% down to $8.84.
According to Bloomberg, BKKT was trading at $8.76 by the day’s close after having shed almost -7% from its opening.
Bakkt went public via a merger deal with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, on Friday.
Bakkt initially launched in 2018 as a cryptocurrency custodian. The firm has since pivoted to launch institutional-facing Bitcoin futures contracts and a retail crypto asset payments app.
Bakkt is not Intercontinental Exchange’s first foray into cryptocurrency, with the firm having participated as a lead investor in Coinbase’s Series C $75-million funding round in January 2015.
Like Bakkt, Coinbase posted a bearish performance for its first day of public trading, shedding -13.8% from a starting price of $381 over the course of the day. Intercontinental Exchange sold its stake in Coinbase for $1.2 billion during the first quarter of 2021.
Earlier this month, Bakkt announced a partnership with Google to enable its retail app users to make payments from their digital asset balances using Google Pay.
Crypto Finserv Firm Bakkt To Soon Trade Publicly On New York Stock Exchange
Starting Oct. 18, Bakkt’s common stock and warrants will be listed on NYSE under the ticker symbols “BKKT” and “BKKT WS,” respectively.
Bakkt Holdings, the digital assets management arm of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has announced it will soon become a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, starting Oct. 18.
The public listing for Bakkt comes as a result of a merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, a Chicago-based special purpose acquisition company. According to an official statement, a shareholders meeting regarding the merger saw approximately 85.1% approval for the business combination:
“Upon closing, the combined company’s Class A common stock and warrants are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the ticker symbols “BKKT” and “BKKT WS” respectively.”
Additionally, the business combination resulted in gross proceeds of approximately $448 million to Bakkt, which it plans to reinvest in growing the company’s capabilities and partnerships.
Just last week, Bakkt announced a partnership with Google to allow the purchase of goods and services using Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies via the Google Pay platform. According to Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael, the partnership “is a testament to Bakkt’s strong position in the digital asset marketplace, to empower consumers to enjoy their digital assets in a real-time, secure, reliable manner.”
Back in March, Bakkt launched a payments app that allows users to make purchases via cryptocurrencies, prior to which the exchange offered BTC futures contracts exclusively to accredited investors.
Meanwhile, mainstream crypto adoption in the United States continues to see increased support from lawmakers as a new bill demands a safe harbor for certain token projects.
A new draft bill proposed by Representative Patrick McHenry, “Clarity for Digital Tokens Act of 2021,” suggests an amendment to the Securities Act of 1933 to allows projects to offer tokens without registering for up to three years.
The bill was based on an older initiative from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce highlighting that “safe harbor could be the most groundbreaking development for the U.S. cryptocurrency market to date.”
Mastercard Plans To Allow US Partners To Offer Crypto Loyalty Rewards
Millions of loyalty rewards program users who may have never had any knowledge or use of cryptocurrencies could soon have some exposure.
Major credit card company Mastercard has announced it is preparing to integrate cryptocurrencies into its loyalty program offerings for United States-based banks, merchants and fintech firms on its payment network.
In a Monday announcement, Mastercard said it would be working with digital asset platform Bakkt to allow its customers based in the United States to buy, sell and hold digital assets through custodial wallets. The partnership will also enable cardholders to earn and spend rewards in crypto rather than using loyalty points and accruing or redeeming tokens for purchases.
“We’ll not only empower our partners to offer a dynamic mix of digital assets options, but also deliver differentiated and relevant consumer experiences,” said executive vice president for digital partnerships at Mastercard Sherri Haymond.
According to data from Colloquy Loyalty Census research conducted in 2017, U.S. consumers held 3.8 billion memberships in loyalty programs, though these numbers have likely changed following the evolving financial landscape amid the pandemic.
Mastercard also reported there were 249 million of its cards in the United States as of the end of Q1 2021. Millions of loyalty rewards program users who may have never had any knowledge or use of cryptocurrencies could soon have some exposure.
Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach said in July the company “[has] to be in this space,” in part, due to the growing interest around central bank digital currencies and crypto. In February, the credit card firm announced its roughly one billion users would be able to use crypto at its more than 30 million supported merchants. However, Mastercard has not yet clarified which tokens would be supported.
The digital assets management arm of the Intercontinental Exchange, Bakkt recently listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbols BKKT and BKKT WS. The platform has also partnered with Google to allow customers to convert their crypto balances to make fiat payments using Google Pay.
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