The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owner of 23 exchanges worldwide including the biggest stock exchange in the world, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and many futures exchanges and clearing houses, is creating a cryptocurrency exchange called Bakkt. Starbucks and Microsoft will be major partners of Bakkt and will begin accepting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Even though this is all huge news, the biggest news might be that Bakkt is planning on launching physically-settled Bitcoin futures by November 2018, which would be a mechanism for institutional investors worldwide to easily buy Bitcoin.
Currently, there are Bitcoin futures contracts on CME and CBOE in Chicago, but these futures contracts are settled for cash, and therefore not a good way to buy actual Bitcoins, although there has been at least one exchange for physical (EFP) with the cash-settled futures contracts.
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will have to approve Bakkt’s proposal but, if approved, it will be the first physically-settled Bitcoin futures in history. The futures contracts will expire every day and be settled for real Bitcoins, making this an excellent way for institutional traders around the world to buy Bitcoin. This could be just as good, or even better, than a Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF), which many experts have said would cause a major Bitcoin rally to levels far beyond USD 20,000.
Bakkt will have a built-in clearing house and cryptocurrency custodian, and will have all the regulatory compliance of any ICE exchange, so it seems the physically-settled Bitcoin contracts have a high chance for approval. These futures are projected to launch in November 2018.
Another major part of this story is that Starbucks will begin accepting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency via Bakkt. Vice President for Partnerships and Payments at Starbucks, Maria Smith, says, “As the flagship retailer, Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted, and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks.”
If all goes according to plan, Bakkt could become the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. This is perhaps the news all crypto enthusiasts have been waiting for, and the Bitcoin market has begun to crawl steadily upwards after this story broke the morning of 3 August 2018.
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