The Intercontinental Exchange—the trading colossus that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other global marketplaces—announced that it is forming a new company called Bakkt.
The new venture, which is expected to launch in November, will offer a federally regulated market for Bitcoin. With the creation of Bakkt, ICE aims to transform Bitcoin into a trusted global currency with broad usage.
The founding imperative for Bakkt will be to make Bitcoin a sound and secure offering for key constituents that now mostly shun it—the world’s big financial institutions. The goal is to clear the way for major money managers to offer Bitcoin mutual funds, pension funds, and ETFs, as highly regulated, mainstream investments.
If the Bakkt blueprint works as planned, a panoply of new Bitcoin funds would tap the pent-up demand for the cryptocurrency, making it a safe and easy choice for everyday investors—notably millennials getting their first 401(k)s. Wall Street could then tap Bitcoin’s popularity as an alternative to stocks and bonds to generate giant trading volumes. And that flood of institutional buying and selling, in turn, would take the terror out of Bitcoin by smoothing its wild swings in price.
To achieve that vision, ICE is partnering with heavyweights from the worlds of technology, consulting, and retail: Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group, and Starbucks. ICE did not immediately disclose the total investment of the investment partners, a group which also includes Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, and Susquehanna International Group—or the ownership stakes.