NYSE's Parent ICE is planning a Bitcoin Exchange

Amid a growing number of financial organizations embracing cryptocurrencies, major exchanges are also joining the bandwagon.

ICE May Build Bitcoin Trading Platform

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange is reportedly working on “an online trading platform that would allow large investors to buy and hold Bitcoin,” according to The New York Times.

Details of the trading services platform are not yet finalized, and the project may not necessarily see the light of the day, according to a person familiar with the matter. ICE is reported to have held talks with various financial institutes about a working model for bitcoin trading using “swaps” – that will allow banks to let their customers own bitcoin the next day. A swap contract-based working mechanism is also said to bring bitcoin trading under the purview and the rules of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which will be an indirect way to regulate the bitcoin-based trading.

Late last month, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman also expressed interest about possibly building a virtual currency exchange if regulatory issues are sorted out. (For more, see Nasdaq CEO Hints at Future Cryptocurrency Exchange.)

Will It Help Bitcoin Be Adopted by the Mainstream?

The news comes on the back of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) announcing last week that it plans to open a bitcoin trading unit. (For more, see Goldman Adds a Crypto Trading Operation.)

Cryptocurrencies have so far been associated with the unregulated, anonymous and decentralized world of finance, and mainstream organizations have shied away from them. The high volatility in their valuations, lack of clarity about the business fundamentals and valuation mechanism, and the anonymous use for nefarious activities such as gambling and drug dealing are the key reasons that many individuals, as well as businesses, have been skeptical about them.

Though bitcoin was launched with an aim to act as a free, decentralized, easy, and borderless method of payment, it has instead become a mode for speculative investment defeating its original purpose. So far, only hedge funds have been transacting in bitcoins, and major investment mediums, like mutual funds and pension funds, have stayed away from cryptocurrencies. Established investors like Warren Buffett have repeatedly criticized them as an investment product. (For more, see Bitcoin Is Probably 'Rat Poison Squared': Buffett.)

Their adoption by major Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and the news of dedicated trading platform development by ICE may act as a shot in the arm for cryptocurrencies. While one can easily trade in bitcoin futures contracts that were launched in December last year by CME, they still remain derivative products of speculative nature. The potential launch of a dedicated bitcoin trading service by a premier exchange is expected to allow direct access to cryptocurrency through which real crypto tokens will be owned by the customer in their respective accounts following the trade.

Bitcoin was trading at a price of $9,298 during Wednesday morning ET, up around 1 percent over the last 24-hours.