The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and other global marketplaces, has announced the launch of a startup in November aimed at making Bitcoin a mainstream financial asset.
“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,” says ICE founder and CEO Jeffrey C. Sprecher.
The new Bitcoin platform by ICE is called Bakkt, which was developed in partnership with big names such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Boston Consulting Group. It will integrate with the ICE’s US futures market and clearing house to list a physically-settled one-day Bitcoin futures product.
Making Bitcoin sound and secure
ICE released a statement saying that Bakkt’s was founded with the priority of making “Bitcoin a sound and secure offering for key constituents that now mostly shun it—the world’s big financial institutions. The goal is to clear the way for major money managers to offer Bitcoin mutual funds, pension funds, and ETFs, as highly regulated, mainstream investments.”
“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,” Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler says. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”
Bakkt is still awaiting regulatory approval, but those behind the platform believe it will be ready in November.
Regulation to build trust
Sprecher explains 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, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets.”
Sprecher and Loeffler told Fortune they believe that, with the help of ICE, Bitcoin will become global. “Bitcoin would greatly simplify the movement of global money,” Sprecher added. “It has the potential to become the first worldwide currency.”
Bakkt is researching ways to increase Bitcoin’s utility as a payment instrument, while Starbucks is helping by developing a system to provide consumers with the ability to seamlessly convert their assets into US dollars so they can pay for items at their coffee shops.
“Bitcoin can’t survive as a rogue idea,” Sprecher said in the Fortune profile. “To evolve, the cryptocurrencies need to run on established infrastructure. They need the trust and rules that have been built into our financial system for many years. They need the kind of trust that the Big Board represents.”
ICE and its partners have been “building the factory” that will power Bakkt for the past 14 months.