Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, and the Intercontinental Exchange chairman, Jeff Sprecher, recently spoke to MIT Media Lab’s Michael Casey at CoinDesk’s Consensus: Invest Conference. The chat was broadcast via the “Inside the ICE House” podcast earlier today.
The two CEO’s talked in depth about their plans for the much-anticipated Bakkt platform, including what makes it different to other products already out there today, and why it will only focus on Bitcoin to begin with.
Will Bakkt’s Federally Regulated Price Discovery be Good for Bitcoin?
The conversation between Loeffler, Sprecher, and Casey began with a simple enough question: Does price matter to you?
Loeffler responded first that it made little difference to the use of digital assets what they were priced at. The CEO went on to muse about the future of crypto more generally, particularly set within the context of the current bear market:
“When I think about what we’re doing at Bakkt what our peers in this space are doing, what all of you in this room are doing, I think about the headline’s today, ‘Will Digital Assets Survive?’ and I’d say the unequivocal answer is ‘yes’.”
This led smoothly on to perhaps the most oft-repeated topic of conversation during the presentation. Both Loeffler and Sprecher hold that the most important thing Bakkt would bring to digital currency was fully regulated price discovery for the first time ever. This, the pair agreed, was the primary focus of the platform. Sprecher stated:
We develop systems where there can be transparent and competent price discovery.”
Loeffler added that institutions needed certainty before they would take the plunge into the world of cryptocurrency. One way of achieving such certainty was by being fully regulatory compliant at the Federal level – something that Bakkt is keen to achieve.
Another way to inspire confidence from the various institutions that the ICE networks with is by having a price discovery method that is free from manipulation. Since Bitcoin is the only digital asset currently recognised by the US government as a commodity, it is uniquely placed to be offered to institutions on such a regulatory compliant platform.
How is Bakkt Different From Other Products Around Today?
The conversation moved to addressing how the Bakkt platform would differ from other exchanges or financial products, such as the CBOE and CME futures contracts launched last December. Loeffler spoke first on the topic:
“At ICE, we’re the largest exchange operator in the world, we operate a dozen exchanges across US, Europe, Asia, Canada, clearing houses. So, we’re connected institutionally around the world to the largest traders of all asset classes.”
Sprecher added that the Bakkt exchange platform will also use its own clearing house. Since everything is going to be entirely pre-funded, there is expected to be far less leverage risk. This clearing house will has also have its rules set by a risk committee comprising of some of the US’s largest financial institutions. These are the same rules that will be taken for the approval of the US government. The hope is that the acceptance of the rule set from such prestigious names will encourage them to offer their approval. This in turn will inspire confidence in the Bakkt platform for investors.
The conversation then moved to Starbucks’s involvement in Bakkt. Loeffler stated that they were also highly interested in helping to put digital assets to use in the real-world. This is something Starbucks was interested in exploring too, so the partnership made a lot of sense. She added that other big names had expressed interest in working with Bakkt in a similar capacity too:
“Since that announcement we’ve heard from others that want to do that.”