Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), has announced that will list a physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts and form a new company whose mission is to make bitcoin a mainstream financial asset.
ICE to Launch Physically-Settled Bitcoin Futures
ICE made the groundbreaking announcement on Friday, revealing that the new platform — Bakkt — has been developed in partnership with a variety of blockbuster names, including Microsoft, Starbucks, and BCG.
Bakkt will integrate with the ICE’s U.S. futures market and clearinghouse to list a physically-settled one-day bitcoin futures product, complete with physical warehousing managed in-house by ICE. This product will launch in November, pending regulatory approval.
Because ICE — one of the biggest names in finance — will serve as custodian for all assets stored on the Bakkt platform, institutional investors such as pensions, endowments, and insurance companies may be less hesitant to take a bet on this burgeoning asset class. Analysts and others with knowledge of the institutional investing landscape had consistently fingered a lack of a respected, regulated custodian as the primary reason that institutions were staying away from bitcoin.
“Bakkt 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,” said Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Bakkt. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”
However, far from just a bitcoin futures exchange, Bakkt — whose other investors include Microsoft subsidiary M12, Fortress, Susquehanna, Pantera Capital, and Galaxy Digital — is intended to be a full-fledged platform that helps digital assets evolve into a mainstream financial asset class.
“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, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, founder, chairman, and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.