It has taken some time, but the bitcoin futures game is heating up. When the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) launched the first bitcoin futures in December of 2017, investors were eager to take part in the new space. Since then, though, there have been few new entries into the bitcoin futures game. Now, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), an Atlanta-based firm which owns the New York Stock Exchange, is entering the field as well with a new platform called Bakkt.
All About Bakkt
Bakkt is a platform leveraging Microsoft's cloud to build "an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets," according to a press release quoted by Coindesk. The report indicates that Bakkt will "allow consumers and institutions to trade, store and spend digital assets over a worldwide network." It is not immediately clear what the user interface of Bakkt will look like, as well as how the platform will distinguish itself from other digital asset exchanges and similar projects which are already in existence.
Physical Bitcoin Futures
While Bakkt resembles some other digital asset platforms in many ways, ICE's new bitcoin futures contract takes the space in a new direction. The firm will offer one-day "physical" bitcoin futures contracts, with bitcoin delivered on a specified date. Most other bitcoin futures contracts are settled with cash, so the new contract which actually delivers BTC will stand apart. This product is set to launch in November, although it awaits final approval from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
ICE hopes that the regulated venues will assist in managing "the specific security and settlement requirements" of digital tokens, adding that it has solicited the help of companies like Starbucks and Microsoft in addressing consumer experience and risk management. Starbucks will assist in developing "practical, trusted and regulated" applications for consumers to facilitate the conversion of digital assets into U.S. dollars for use in the company's brick and mortar locations.
ICE's Founder and Chair, Jeffrey Sprecher, remarked on the new launch, saying that "in bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, we aim to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale." Bakkt's CEO, Kelly Loeffler, added that the project "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."
The new project has already received significant interest from a number of prominent venture capital firms. The release indicates that companies including Galaxy Digital, Pantera Capital, Horizons Ventures, and Microsoft's VC branch, M12, are all either confirmed as investors or have anticipated investments forthcoming.