|Key People||Gavin White, CEO; Adam White, President; Nicholas Cabrera, Chief Product Officer; Matthew Johnson, CTO|
|Employees||10 - 50|
Bakkt is a digital assets custody service created by and affilated with Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). It pivoted from exclusively warehousing bitcoin to providing digital services for participants in online video gaming and commercial loyalty programs.
Bakkt's formation was announced by ICE on August 3, 2018. The company named Microsoft and Starbucks as partners.
Bakkt said at the time that ICE Futures US would launch unmargined deliverable futures trading in November 2018. 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. 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.
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. 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.
Kelly Loeffler, spouse of ICE CEO Jeffrey Sprecher, was the first CEO of Bakkt. The three pillars of Bakkt, according to Loeffler, were to be a consistent regulatory construct, transparent, efficient price discovery, and an institutional quality pre- and post-trade infrastructure.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. In April 2019, Bakkt announced that it had hired PayPal and Google veteran Mike Blandina as Chief Product Officer. 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.
In January 2019, the firm announced the acquisition of the back office group of Rosenthal Collins Group, a subsidiary of Marex Spectron. Bakkt acquired the back office processing systems, treasury and compliance departments so it could handle payments between customers and merchants on Bakkt.
The firm moved toward adding custody services in April 2019, announcing the acquisition of Digital Asset Custody Company. It also announced its application for a so-called BitLicense in New York, which would allow the company to operate a cryptocurrency exchange in that state, and put up $35 million of its own money into the clearinghouse, which serves as a risk waterfall.
Bakkt announced the members of its five-person board of directors on March 29, 2019. The members were Akshay Naheta, managing partner at Softbank; Sean Collins, managing partner at Goldfinch Partners; then-CEO Kelly Loeffler, ICE CEO Jeff Sprecher, and Tom Noonan, member of the ICE board of directors, who also served as chairman of the Bakkt board.
In October 2019, Bakkt announced its plans to move into the consumer space with a cryptocurrency consumer app and merchant portal in the first half of 2020 aimed at enabling bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions. It said it planned to test the consumer app with its partner, Starbucks, which is an equity holder in the venture.
ICE announced on December 4, 2019 that Loeffler had been appointed to the U.S. Senate to complete the remaining year of retiring Republican Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson's term. This forced her to step down as CEO.
In April 2020, Bakkt announced that Blandina was leaving to work at JPMorgan. Bakkt appointed David Clifton, ICE’s vice president of M&A and integration, as interim chief executive officer.
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." 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."
Bakkt's license from the New York Department of Financial Services was later expanded to allow it to provide services to "institutional" clients, according to a blog post by Bakkt COO Adam White on November 11, 2019. On November 19, Galaxy Digital announced that it would use Bakkt as a custodian for its two new bitcoin investment funds.
On August 16, 2019, Loeffler announced on Bakkt's blog that ICE Futures U.S.'s physically-delivered bitcoin futures, commonly referred to as "Bakkt futures," would launch trading on September 23, 2019. Contrary to previous statements from Loeffler and others, Bakkt's role was limited to its subsidiary Bakkt Warehouse's execution of final delivery instructions on ICE Futures U.S.'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 U.S., which clears the futures contracts, matches buyers and sellers with open positions and provides delivery instructions to Bakkt. Market participants who are the beneficial owners of those positions must have accounts at Bakkt in order to receive or pay bitcoin.
On September 23, 2019, ICE Futures U.S.'s bitcoin futures contract launched. Bakkt futures initially saw low daily trading volumes. 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."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. ICE's trading volume in its physically-settled monthly bitcoin futures contracts spiked, rising from the futures contract equivalent of $690,000 on October 22 to the futures contract equivalent of $4.81 million on October 23. The contract volume hit a record high to date of 1,756 contracts on November 8, 2019.
ICE Futures U.S. introduced options on its bitcoin futures on December 9, 2019. The European-style options expire two days prior to the last trading day of the futures contract. Bakkt announced that same day that ICE Futures Singapore, an electronic futures market based in Singapore which operates separately from ICE Futures US, had launched trading in cash settled bitcoin futures based on ICE Futures US settlement prices.
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.
In March 2021, Bakkt finally announced the launch of its app after completing an invite-only trial run consisting of 500,000 users. The app, which became available on both the Apple Store and the Google Play store, included a number of functions, including a wallet for holding digital assets. The primary function of the app is to serve as a medium for digital assets to be used for retail services; through the Bakkt app, users are able to convert bitcoin - as well as airline miles, loyalty points from participating businesses, and gift cards from participating businesses - into fiat currency, albeit within the app. The fiat currency held in the user's account can then be used to reload a Starbucks card, for example. Besides Starbucks, the Bakkt app provides deals, additional payment options, and additional rewards and benefits from its other business partners, including Best Buy, Choice Hotels, Fiserv, and GolfNow.
Loyalty points platform
In February 2020, ICE announced the acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, a company that manages loyalty and rewards points platforms for numerous companies. ICE said Bakkt would acquire Bridge2 Solutions from ICE after Bakkt had completed its Series B fundraising later in the first quarter of 2020.
Bridge2 plans to build an app that would take advantage of its existing network of merchants by allowing those merchants to opt into plugging their payment processes directly into the Bakkt app instead of going through financial institutions to process payments. Bakkt would charge a fee, Fortune reported, but it would be lower than the 2.5 percent interchange fee charged by most banks. The Bridge2-developed app would also allow users to convert their unused rewards and loyalty points from the platforms Bridge2 already manages into cash or bitcoin.
Blandina published a blog post on March 16, 2020 saying that Bakkt had completed its Series B fund raise of $300 million dollars. While the blog post provided little in detailed financial information, Blandina revealed that the investors were ICE, M12 (Microsoft Ventures), PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital and Pantera Capital, all of which were among the original investors. Blandina implied that ICE had transferred Bridge2 solutions to Bakkt, as was originally planned. Bakkt has 350 employees according to the blog post. ICE did not reveal the price it paid for Bridge2 Solutions nor the value at which it transferred the asset to Bakkt. Crunchbase, an online service which tracks investment in technology-based startups, reports that Bridge2 Solutions had raised $77 million in three rounds prior to the sale of the company to ICE.
Bakkt president Adam White tweeted on March 16, 2020, that Bakkt payments had been integrated into the Starbucks app.
Spin-off from ICE
According to a January 7, 2020 report from online news service Bloomberg, Bakkt would imminently merge with special purpose acquisition company VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings which is listed for trading on Nasdaq.
- Blog. Bakkt.
- INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE LEADING LOYALTY PROGRAM PROVIDER BRIDGE2 SOLUTIONS. Intercontinental Exchange.
- Intercontinental Exchange Announces Bakkt, a Global Platform and Ecosystem for Digital Assets. Business Wire.
- New Starbucks partnership with Microsoft allows customers to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin. CNBC.
- Launch update + reader FAQs. Bakkt.
- Bitcoin Futures Launch Hits Regulatory Snag. The Wall Street Journal.
- NYSE Operator’s Crypto Platform Bakkt Completes $182.5 Million Funding Round. Cointelegraph.
- Fraud Alert: Fake Bakkt Website is Seeking Funds. Fortune.
- An evolving market. Kelly Loeffler - Medium.
- Coinbase’s Adam White is joining Bakkt as its COO. The Block.
- Bitcoin Futures Exchange Bakkt Hires Mike Blandina As Chief Product Officer. BlockTribune.
- Bakkt brings on Google payments expert as it builds its consumer app for spending cryptocurrency. Bakkt.
- Bakkt Acquisition Accelerates Plan to Streamline Consumer Payments. Fortune.
- Bakkt Taps Former IBM and Cisco Exec Tom Noonan to Chair Its Board. CoinDesk.
- Bakkt to launch consumer app in first half of 2020; will test product with Starbucks. TheBlockCrypto.
- Press Release. Intercontinental Exchange.
- Press Release. Bakkt.
- Bakkt by experienced leadership. Bakkt.
- REFILE-UPDATE 1-Bakkt boss to leave for JPMorgan - source. Reuters.
- FINANCIAL SERVICES SUPERINTENDENT LINDA A. LACEWELL ANNOUNCES DFS GRANTS CHARTER TO BAKKT. New York Department of Financial Services.
- Twitter. Twitter.
- Raising the Bar: Announcing Bakkt Institutional Custody. Medium.
- Galaxy Digital Launches Bitcoin Funds. PR Newswire.
- Cleared to Launch. Bakkt Blog.
- Product Certification. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- Bakkt Is Finally Launching Its Bitcoin Futures Today. Here’s What to Expect. CoinDesk.
- NYSE Owner Launches Long-Awaited Bitcoin Futures. The Wall Street Journal.
- Trading Volume for Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures Hit Just $5 Million in First Week. Coindesk.
- Trading Organization Rules. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- Bakkt’s monthly bitcoin futures hit nearly $5M in trading volume. The Block Crypto.
- Report Center. Intercontinental Exchange.
- Bakkt Goes Live With Options, Cash-Settled Futures Products. CoinDesk.
- Expanding the Bakkt Bitcoin Product Complex. Medium.
- Unlocking the value of digital assets. Medium.
- Bakkt Launches Its Digital Wallet, Bakkt App, to Manage All Forms of Digital Assets, Debuting with Starbucks, GolfNow, and Best Buy Among Other Marquee Brands. Businesswire.
- Make the most of your digital assets with Bakkt. Bakkt.
- INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE LEADING LOYALTY PROGRAM PROVIDER BRIDGE2 SOLUTIONS. Intercontinental Exchange.
- Bakkt aims to turn your rewards points into a wallet you can spend anywhere. Fortune.
- Bakkt set to acquire loyalty program provider Bridge2 Solutions. The Block.
- Bakkt Completes $300 Million Series B Financing. Medium.
- Bridge2 Solutions. Crunchbase.
- @WhiteAdamL. Twitter.
- Crypto Exchange Bakkt Nears Merger With Victory Park SPAC. Bloomberg.