Heavyweight Crypto Platform Announced
In a series of media announcements over the weekend, the crypto world learned about a new initiative launched by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, to develop “an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets.”
According to a press release from ICE, the new company, dubbed Bakkt, is working with brands such as Microsoft, BCG, and Starbucks, to develop a platform for “consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets […]”
In addition, the new platform aims to launch a 1-day physically delivered bitcoin futures contracts in November, something which has not been done yet by any of the players that are active in the bitcoin market. The already established bitcoin futures contracts that are traded at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) are settled in cash upon expiry rather than in physical bitcoins.
“Bakkt is designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security and utility,” said Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Bakkt. The company is in preparation for launch and further operational details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Mike Novogratz, former Wall Street banker turned crypto entrepreneur, called the announcement “the most important news in crypto this year” on Twitter.
No Bitcoins for Coffee…Yet
Several media outlets at first misrepresented the news, putting out headlines such as “New Starbucks partnership with Microsoft allows customers to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin.”
“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,” Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks, was quoted as saying in the press release.
A Starbucks spokesperson later had to explain that coffee-thirsty customers in fact “will not be able to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin,” but that the company has joined forces with other well-known brands to create a platform to “convert digital assets like Bitcoin into U.S. dollars, which can be used at Starbucks.”
“However, we will continue to talk with customers and regulators as the space evolves,” the Starbucks spokesperson concluded.
In February, Howard Schultz, then the executive chairman of Starbucks, dismissed the idea of bitcoin integration, but he claimed that the company could “be one of the first companies to have a proprietary digital currency” integrated into a new Starbucks app.