In a surprising development for the cryptocurrency ecosystem, Bakkt chief executive officer Kelly Loeffler is officially heading to Capitol Hill.
The move comes after reports first broke last week that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was considering Loeffler to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in the state.
That reporting ended up being on the money, as the former CEO for the high-profile crypto derivatives startup was formally appointed as the second senator for Georgia on December 4th. Loeffler will serve in the stead of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring ahead of the conclusion of his term in January 2023 for medical reasons.
Accordingly, Loeffler’s temporary one-year tenure in the Senate begins on January 1st, 2020, and because of the chamber’s special rules she will have to run for reelection if she plans to represent the citizens of Georgia in the upper house of Congress into 2021 and beyond.
As for what can be expected from Sen. Loeffler, that remains to be seen where cryptocurrency is concerned. Appointed as a Republican, Loeffler’s positions should generally align with President Trump’s, though she seems set to disagree with the president on Bitcoin.
The Crypto Question
Bakkt caused major waves in the cryptoeconomy when it was announced last fall, not least of which because of its high-profile backers in the Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE.
ICE owns and operates more than a few major financial exchanges in the world, including the New York Stock Exchange. Thus ICE’s launch of Bakkt was seen as a major adoption milestone that would only serve to bring more mainstream users to cryptocurrency.
And since the very start of Bakkt Loeffler was at the helm as CEO, helping to steer the firm to surging volume around its increasingly popular bitcoin futures products in recent weeks. Accordingly, it’s no secret that Loeffler is likely entering Congress as the most crypto-friendly Senator ever.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to help unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets,” Loeffler said in Bakkt’s announcement post.
However, while Loeffler seems to be in line with the majority of President Trump’s political platform, her affinity for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin appears to be one large point of departure.
Indeed, Trump caused waves himself this summer when he took to Twitter to bash bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the wake of Facebook’s Libra stablecoin hitting the scene.
“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump said.
So Sen. Loeffler and President Trump may not see eye to eye on cryptocurrencies, though to be fair the matter might not come up much over the next year in light of more pressing political concerns. In any case, when it comes to legislation and committee work, Loeffler is primed to a be pro-crypto stalwart inside Congress that could sway other peers on the matter.
Moreover, as the subject of cryptocurrency is coming up more and more in Congress these days, Sen. Loeffler has a chance to leave a unique mark in Washington D.C.
While ICE has yet to declare who will replace Loeffler at Bakkt, the crypto firm’s rise looks like it’s only just beginning, so whoever does replace her has a good opportunity to take the company to new heights.
For example, just last week the volume of trading around Bakkt’s monthly bitcoin futures product hit an all-time high of $37 million USD.
The company’s futures were the first in the U.S. to be bitcoin settled, i.e. bitcoin delivered upon the contract’s completion, so Bakkt is also looking to expand its offerings by launching cash-settled bitcoin futures later this month.