Bakkt, the bitcoin custody, derivatives, and digital assets platform backed by NYSE-operator Intcontinental Exchange (ICE), just raised a new war chest.
On Monday, March 16th, Bakkt announced in a Medium post that it had completed a $300 million USD Series B fundraising round with participation from major firms like ICE, Microsoft’s venture arm M12, and Boston Consulting Group.
The fresh financing better positions the firm as a giant-in-the-making in the cryptoeconomy, Bakkt chief executive officer Mike Blandina said on the news:
“With the completion of our Series B financing and recent acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, Bakkt is now a team of 350 employees and powers the loyalty redemption programs for 7 of the top 10 financial institutions and over 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs including two of the largest US airlines.”
Bakkt’s Flagship App Launch Nears
Bakkt is aiming to be much more than just a platform for enterprises to custody bitcoin or trade bitcoin futures.
The keystone of that one-stop strategy is the Bakkt app, which will be backed by a consumer-friendly cryptocurrency exchange that may come to rival the likes of other U.S. crypto exchange powers like Coinbase and Gemini in time.
In his Series B announcement, CEO Blandina notably said that the Bakkt app was set to launch this summer, which was in line with the firm’s prior public projection of a 2020 rollout.
The app aims to bring all users’ digital asset activities into a single convenient dashboard, Blandina added:
“Whether it’s miles from your favorite airline, loyalty points from the local grocery store, or bitcoin you’ve purchased, the Bakkt app enables you to aggregate all of these assets into a single digital wallet. In just a few taps you can use those assets to shop at your favorite merchants, send them to family and friends, or convert them to cash.”
Rise of Bakkt Cash
Not long after the Series B news on Monday, company president Adam White revealed on Twitter the firm’s first “Bakkt Cash” payments integration with the Starbucks app, tweeting out a picture of the early access meld in-app.
“As global markets shed trillions of dollars, empowering consumers with new spending power [is] more important than ever,” White said.
For now, the integration isn’t live but rather is being trialed, so Starbucks users can’t yet pay for their drinks or food with Bakkt Cash. Still, the fledgling collaboration offers a glimpse of what’s to come, a Starbucks spokesperson commented:
“We anticipate that a range of cryptocurrencies will gain traction with customers and, through our work with Bakkt, we will be uniquely positioned to constantly consider and offer customers new and unique ways to pay seamlessly, at Starbucks.”
The Loyalty Factor
Bakkt has been keen on ramping up ahead of its app launch later this year.
Back in February, ICE agreed to acquire the aforementioned Bridge2 Solutions, a retail-focused loyalty rewards startup. As part of that deal, Bakkt agreed to purchase the firm upon the completion of its Series B, which just took place this week.
“Combining Bridge2 Solutions’ embedded relationships with banks and merchants and their innovative Loyalty Pay solution will enable us to launch new products that further drive loyalty and empower consumers to trade, transfer and spend digital assets in entirely new ways,” Bakkt CEO Mike Blandina said at the time.
The meld potentially makes Bakkt Cash integrations more attractive for merchants, like Starbucks, who may leverage the loyalties solution infrastructure to offer new varieties of digital rewards to fans, all via the Bakkt App.
What novel kinds of rewards programs will come remain to be seen, but with ICE and Bakkt behind the wheel, they could gain mainstream traction.