BITCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

ICE’s Bakkt May Be Seeking a New York Crypto Custody License

NEW YORK – Bakkt, Intercontinental Exchange’s bitcoin futures trading platform, may be seeking a New York crypto license.

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According to Bloomberg, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is turning to the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to receive a license after being postponed for five months.

The delays have been placed on cynicism from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the regulatory body in charge of bitcoin futures.

The CFTC apprehensive take is due to how clients’ tokens will be stored and whether investors have enough safeguards against theft and manipulation.

ICE is hoping a regulatory stamp of approval from the NYDFS will conciliate the CFTC.

However, even with a state license, ICE will still need an endorsement by the CFTC on the Bakkt project.

Spokesmen for ICE and the CFTC declined to comment.

Bakkt hopes to solve two main problems they believe is holding bitcoin back from mainstream adoption; Institutional investors entering the sector, as well as, enabling “consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.”

The project was initially slated for launch in November, but regulatory hurdles have plagued the platform since.

Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler stated the company is continuing to work with the CFTC, but they’re “not yet able to provide a launch date.”

Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler

“While we’re not yet able to provide a launch date, we’re making solid progress in bringing the first physical delivery price discovery contracts for Bitcoin to the U.S., where price formation will occur in federally regulated, transparent markets,” Loeffler said in a Medium post on March 29.

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BITCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

PayPal, Google Veteran Mike Blandina Joins Bakkt as Chief Product Officer

Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, has announced PayPal and Google director Mike Blandina will be joining the company as its new Chief Product Officer.

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Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler

“We are thrilled to have Mike as a leader on our team as we build an innovative platform for securing and transacting with digital assets,” said Loeffler.

“One of the most important aspects of building Bakkt isn’t technological, It’s human. Building an innovative company from the ground up allows us to assemble a team of trailblazers and doers — those who want to deliver on our shared vision for digital assets, and who work tirelessly to execute and deliver.”

Last year, Bakkt began with several critical hires, including Adam White, the founding COO, who heads up the company’s institutional custody and traded products.

Bakkt also recruited Balaji Devarasetty, who joined from Worldpay, as the VP of Tech to advance our payments platform and to help build out Bakkt’s engineering team.

Bakkt hopes to establish a strong culture centered on solving customers’ challenges and delivering new opportunities.

As Bakkt’s CPO, Mike will lead efforts to converge a trusted ecosystem for digital assets with payments use cases, two elements of Bakkt that help bring real world applications to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“Mike joins us with more than 25 years of experience in payments across product, engineering, strategy and operations,” stated Loeffler.

“He was most recently with OneMarket, where he was CTO and led product & engineering. Previously, Mike served as head of payments and credit engineering at PayPal and director of engineering for Google Wallet at Google. Mike joined Google following its acquisition of TxVia, a venture-backed FinTech startup where he was COO and a member of the Board.”

Before that, he was CTO of Blackhawk Network, one of the global leaders in gift card and digital payment solutions.

A founder of several successful tech startups, Mike began his career writing software in the United States Army.

With deep experience in the payments and fintech industry, he also served as a member of the Money2020 advisory board.

“As we work through regulatory approvals, we are mindful that the infrastructure we are building has the potential to create more opportunities for digital assets to grow in relevance and trust — by being more secure, investible and useful,” said Loeffler.

“As a former marathoner, this point in time recalls the stage in the training regimen when you’re putting in long runs with your training team. Race day is approaching, and there is more work to be done. I’m proud to be going the distance with this growing team and of the culture we are building, while bringing digital assets into the mainstream economy.”

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BITCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

Former IBM, Cisco Executive Joins Bakkt’s Board of Directors

Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, has announced Tom Noonan, former executive at both IBM and Cisco, will be joining Bakkt’s board of directors.

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Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler

“We are charting a new course and it requires significant work,” said Loeffler.

“Chairing the board is Tom Noonan, a cyber expert and founder of numerous cybersecurity companies, including Internet Security Systems (IBM), JouleX (Cisco) and Endgame.”

Also joining Loeffler on the board are Jeff Sprecher, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as well as, Akshay Naheta, Managing Partner at Softbank, and Sean Collins, Managing Partner at Goldfinch Partners.

In a recent blog post, Loeffler stated security concerns and market manipulation is the most important reason for Bakkt.

“With ongoing reports of crypto market manipulation and security concerns, the need for the solutions we’re building at Bakkt is more critical than ever,” stated Loeffler.

“It illustrates why regulated custody and market-based solutions for digital assets are at the core of our work to address risks that have discouraged many from interacting with digital assets. Security, infrastructure and regulatory clarity are cornerstones for building trust, and ultimately to help this technology serve people around the world.”

Bakkt is working closely with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to acquire regulatory approval.

As for an official launch date, the time target for a physical BTC futures market is still unclear.

“While we’re not yet able to provide a launch date, we’re making solid progress in bringing the first physical delivery price discovery contracts for bitcoin to the U.S., where price formation will occur in federally regulated, transparent markets,” stated Loeffler.

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BLOCKCHAIN

Starbucks Partnering with Bakkt to Accept Bitcoin

New evidence suggests Starbucks will begin accepting bitcoin (BTC) as their partnership with Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt grows, according to news outlet The Block.

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Starbucks became a founding partner in Bakkt in August and plans to support Bakkt’s software, allowing U.S. customers to pay using BTC.

According to the report, the cryptocurrency transactions will be instantly converted to fiat.

Bakkt has not been released yet, but the company hopes the new platform will on-ramp institutional investors to the cryptocurrency sector.

The product is owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which owns and operates 12 exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

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Bakkt has endured several delays since its initial announcement as executives emphasized the need for full regulatory compliance.

Citing an unnamed source close to the matter, The Block stated Starbucks will wait until the Bakkt platform is proven before launching their crypto to fiat coffee purchasing options.

“In many ways, there are limits to what Starbucks can do with partnerships because there are limits to what customers can expect,” the source said.

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BITCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

ICE’s Bakkt Crypto Platform Finalizes First Acquisition

Bakkt, Intercontinental Exchange’s bitcoin (BTC) futures trading platform, has announced the acquisition of assets in futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG).

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“With today’s closing of our transaction with Rosenthal Collins Group, we welcome great new team members to Bakkt,” the company stated.

“RCG’s remarkable heritage, culture and expertise will help us build out a trusted institutional infrastructure for digital assets.”

Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, stated the acquisition is the next step while awaiting regulatory approval by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

“This acquisition underlines the fact we’re not standing still as we await regulatory approval by the CFTC for the launch of regulated trading in our crypto markets,” Loeffler said.

“Our mission requires significant investment in technology to establish an innovative platform, as well as financial market expertise to deliver the most trusted fintech ecosystem for digital assets.”

The vision of Bakkt is to bring digital assets into the mainstream by enabling efficient transactions between consumers and merchants.

“While blockchain and cryptocurrencies are early in their development, we are committed to expanding the use of this technology to promote choice by building a fair, efficient platform for digital assets globally,” said Loeffler.

On Feb. 7, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company to over 20 other major exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, hosted their Q4 2018 earnings call.

Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler

Scott Hill, Chief Financial Officer at ICE, stated Bakkt “will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter.”

Jeff Sprecher, Chairman and CEO of ICE, called Bakkt a “moonshot bet.”

Recently, Bakkt advertised a list of eight vacancies at the company, which are all located in Atlanta and New York City.

The most sought after positions include directing and senior level developers.

The company is looking to hire a blockchain developer, a mobile developer, a software development engineer, a senior full stack engineer, and a director of security engineering.

Furthermore, the company is hiring at least one institutional sales member and a director of finance.

In December, during their first round of funding, the company raised $182.5 million from 12 partners and investors.

ICE stated they expect “to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019 for the trading, clearing and warehousing” of its Bakkt ETF product.

“WE ARE FOCUSED ON BUILDING A NIMBLE, ENTREPRENEURIAL TEAM WITH A FOCUS ON SERVING OUR CUSTOMERS AND DELIVERING RESULTS,” THE COMPANY SAID ON AN OFFICIAL BLOG POST.

“KEY SUCCESS FACTORS IN OUR CULTURE INCLUDE COLLABORATION, PROBLEM SOLVING, COMMUNICATION, INTEGRITY, AND PROFESSIONALISM AND LEADERSHIP. THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED INTEREST AND FEEDBACK AS WE BUILD OUT BAKKT.”

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