Bakkt, the cryptocurrency trading and liquidity platform owned by the New York Stock Exchange’s parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has raised $182 million in funding. The platform’s CEO Kelly Loeffler made the announcement via a post on Medium on New Year’s Eve.
This is the platform’s first seed funding round and according to the announcement, some of the high-profile companies that participated in the funding round include Eagle Seven, Alan Howard, Goldfinch Partners, Protocol Ventures, M12 (the venture capital arm of Microsoft), Horizons Ventures, Galaxy Digital, the Boston Consulting Group, PayU, CMT Digital, Intercontinental Exchange and Pantera Capital.
Bakkt CEO Loeffler said that the platform is forging ahead with its mission to provide full institutional access to cryptocurrencies. Retail consumers and merchants won’t be left out, as there are plans to collaborate with them in the future.
About the platform’s plans for 2019, Loeffler wrote, “We are focused on opportunities to provide new infrastructure, including the industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”
Bakkt was launched by the ICE, Microsoft, Starbucks, and a few other derivatives and futures companies as a means through which financial institutions can gain entry into the crypto market and lay a pathway for the platform to facilitate the mass adoption of Bitcoin beyond speculative purposes.
The platform was first announced in August 2018, with Loeffler, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at ICE, appointed as its CEO. The platform quickly partnered with Microsoft to help with providing cloud infrastructure to its service, and Starbucks to develop applications through which customers in the United States can convert digital assets to fiat currency for making purchases in-store.
Bitcoin Futures Product Delayed Again
Bakkt is still waiting for approval from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to launch a physically delivered Bitcoin futures contract with physical warehousing. While the platform planned to launch its contract in November 2018, it was first delayed by a month, and it has now been confirmed that the launch will be delayed till “early 2019.” It is believed that the approval might not arrive in time, considering the pace at which the regulatory agency has been operating.
Along with the funding announcement, reports have also confirmed that Bakkt has appointed Balaki Devarasetty, who served as a Vice President at Vantiv to be its new head of technology. In addition, ‘Jide Layoe, former Software Product Manager at UL Transaction Security, will be taking on the role of Technical Product Manager at Bakkt while the platform also hired Peter Lee, former Senior Vice President at Modizo, as its Product Engineering Director.
Loeffler mentioned the platform’s expansion plans in a Medium post in November, where she said Bakkt was “focused on building a nimble, entrepreneurial team with a focus on serving our customers and delivering results.”
In the post, Loeffler had said:
“Key success factors in our culture include collaboration, problem-solving, communication, integrity, and professionalism and leadership.”
The last 12 months saw crypto-based startups fail to reach the heights expected of them. Failed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), scalability errors due to the rise and fall in crypto prices were the highlights of 2018 filled with mixed results. Interestingly, funding from venture capital investments in the industry was at an all-time high, with U.S.based crypto projects received about $2.2 billion in funding for 2018. It might be little too early to speculate on how the crypto market in 2019 will be, but Bakkt is one company that is starting the year on the right foot.