Bakkt

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Bakkt
Bakkt.jpg
Founded 2018
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Key People Kelly Loeffler, CEO; Adam White, COO; Mike Blandina, Chief Product Officer
Employees 10 - 50
Products Cryptocurrency custody
Twitter @Bakkt
LinkedIn Profile
Facebook bakktapp
Website Bakkt Home
Blog Bakkt Blog

Bakkt is a digital assets custody service created by and affilated with Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).[1]

Overview

Bakkt's formation was announced by ICE on August 3, 2018. The company named Microsoft and Starbucks as partners.[2]

Bakkt said at the time that it would launch unmargined deliverable futures trading in November 2018.[3] In a company blog post dated November 20, 2018, however, the company said that the launch of futures trading was delayed until January 24, 2019, as Bakkt continued to work with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to gain its approval.[4] According to a Wall Street Journal article in March 2019, Bakkt, whose operations were held in abeyance at the time, lacked CFTC approval for its plans to handle customer funds, including those denominated in cryptocurrencies.[5]

Bakkt announced that it had received investments of $182.5 million on December 31, 2018. The twelve investors included ICE, Boston Consulting Group, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Microsoft's venture funding arm and Pantera Capital. Starbucks was not mentioned.[6] In the following February, leveraging Bakkt's fame an unidentified individual sent emails trying to attract potential investors for a second round of investments in Bakkt in a blatant scam. The emails asked recipients to register names, email addresses and wallet addresses at bakktplatform.io.[7]

Kelly Loeffler, spouse of ICE CEO Jeffrey Sprecher, is the CEO of Bakkt. In October 2018, Bakkt announced that Adam White, who was the fifth employee hired by Coinbase and now the second hired by Bakkt, would join as COO.[8] In April 2019, Bakkt announced that it had hired PayPal and Google veteran Mike Blandina as Chief Product Officer.[9] In June 2019, Bakkt brought on Chris Petersen, a former payments product strategist from Google, to help the firm launch its mobile app-based wallet, dubbed Bakkt Pay.[10]

Bakkt announced its five-member board of directors on March 29, 2019. The members include Akshay Naheta, managing partner at Softbank, Sean Collins, managing partner at Goldfinch Partners, Kelly Loeffler, Jeff Sprecher, and Tom Noonan, member of the ICE board of directors who will also serve as chairman of the Bakkt board.[11]

Services

Custody

Bakkt established Bakkt Trust Company which received a charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) on August 16, 2019. The NYDFS "has authorized Bakkt to provide custody services for bitcoin in conjunction with the launch of physically delivered bitcoin futures contracts. Bakkt will serve institutional customers; its bitcoin futures contracts will be listed for trading on Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures US and cleared through ICE Clear US."[12] Bakkt refers to this service as Bakkt Warehouse.

According to a September 9, 2019 Tweet from Bakkt, "Bitcoin deposited at our Warehouse is protected by a $125 million insurance policy."[13]

Bakkt's license from the New York Department of Financial Services was later extended to providing services to "institutional" clients, according to a blog post by Bakkt COO Adam White on November 11, 2019.[14] On November 19, Galaxy Digital announced that it would use Bakkt as a custodian for its two new bitcoin investment funds.[15]

"Bakkt Futures"

On August 16, 2019, Loeffler announced on Bakkt's blog that ICE's physically-delivered bitcoin futures, commonly referred to as "Bakkt futures," would launch trading on September 23, 2019.[16] Bakkt Warehouse executes the final deliveries on ICE US Futures exchange's daily and monthly bitcoin futures. Priced in U.S. dollars, each futures contract is for one bitcoin. After the end of trading in a futures contract, ICE Clear US, which clears the futures contracts, matches buyers and sellers with open positions and provides delivery instructions to Bakkt. The market participants who are the beneficial owners of those positions must have accounts at Bakkt in order to receive or pay bitcoin.[17]

On September 23, 2019, Bakkt futures launched.[18][19] Bakkt futures initially saw very low trading volume. In its first week of trading, only 623 bitcoin futures contracts - each of which represents a single bitcoin - were traded, amounting to just $5 million worth of the asset. Dave Weisberger, CEO of CoinRoutes, said that it was too early to write off Bakkt, because it takes time for traders to migrate between platforms, saying, "these things tend to develop slowly."[20]In October, ICE filed three certifications with the CFTC for programs to enhance trading volumes: liquidity provider program, market maker program and delivery provider program. Neither the incentives provided by the exchange nor the requirements on traders to qualify for payments were made public.[21] ICE's trading volume in its physically-settled monthly bitcoin futures contracts spiked, going from the futures contract equivalent of $690,000 on October 22 to the futures contract equivalent of $4.81 million on October 23.[22] The contract volume hit a record high to date of 1,756 contracts on November 8, 2019.[23]

Bakkt App

Bakkt Chief Product Officer Mike Blandina wrote in a blog post on October 28 that the company would introduce a consumer app in 2020 that would allow customers to make easy payments from their mobile devices. The first retailer to allow its customers to use the app for purchases will be Starbucks.[24]

Key People

References

  1. Blog. Bakkt.
  2. Intercontinental Exchange Announces Bakkt, a Global Platform and Ecosystem for Digital Assets. Business Wire.
  3. New Starbucks partnership with Microsoft allows customers to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin. CNBC.
  4. Launch update + reader FAQs. Bakkt.
  5. Bitcoin Futures Launch Hits Regulatory Snag. The Wall Street Journal.
  6. NYSE Operator’s Crypto Platform Bakkt Completes $182.5 Million Funding Round. Cointelegraph.
  7. Fraud Alert: Fake Bakkt Website is Seeking Funds. Fortune.
  8. Coinbase’s Adam White is joining Bakkt as its COO. The Block.
  9. Bitcoin Futures Exchange Bakkt Hires Mike Blandina As Chief Product Officer. BlockTribune.
  10. Bakkt brings on Google payments expert as it builds its consumer app for spending cryptocurrency. Bakkt.
  11. Bakkt Taps Former IBM and Cisco Exec Tom Noonan to Chair Its Board. CoinDesk.
  12. FINANCIAL SERVICES SUPERINTENDENT LINDA A. LACEWELL ANNOUNCES DFS GRANTS CHARTER TO BAKKT. New York Department of Financial Services.
  13. Twitter. Twitter.
  14. Raising the Bar: Announcing Bakkt Institutional Custody. Medium.
  15. Galaxy Digital Launches Bitcoin Funds. PR Newswire.
  16. Cleared to Launch. Bakkt Blog.
  17. Product Certification. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  18. Bakkt Is Finally Launching Its Bitcoin Futures Today. Here’s What to Expect. CoinDesk.
  19. NYSE Owner Launches Long-Awaited Bitcoin Futures. The Wall Street Journal.
  20. Trading Volume for Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures Hit Just $5 Million in First Week. Coindesk.
  21. Trading Organization Rules. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  22. Bakkt’s monthly bitcoin futures hit nearly $5M in trading volume. The Block Crypto.
  23. Report Center. Intercontinental Exchange.
  24. Unlocking the value of digital assets. Medium.