New York Stock Exchange and Microsoft will team-up to create Bakkt crypto ‘ecosystem’

ICE, the company behind the NYSE is working with the tech giant to form a new company focused on digital assets.

Intercontinental Exchange, aka ICE, the company that own the New York Stock Exchange – as well as clearing houses, data and listings services, announced today that it plans to form a new company, Bakkt, which will use Microsoft cloud solutions to “create an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets”.

Bakkt will, its owners say, “enable consumers and institutions to seamlessly buy, sell, store and spend digital assets,” and operate to bring “trust, efficiency and commerce to digital assets, Bakkt seeks to develop open technology to connect existing market and merchant infrastructure to the blockchain.

The new company will operate in partnership with “marquee group of organisations” that includes the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and – somewhat strangely, but also not –  Starbucks, to “create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.”

It basically boils down to the kind of institutionalised, regulated, mainstream market for cryptocurrencies and tokens that people have been claiming is what will take digital assets into the true mainstream of finance – and an ecosystem upon which major companies can rely in offering digital currency options to their customers.

According to the NYSE press release, Bakkt will include include federally regulated markets and ‘warehousing’, along with merchant and consumer applications. Its first applications will be for the trading and conversion of Bitcoin against various fiat currencies.

“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,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.

Intercontinental Exchange’s U.S.-based futures exchange and clearing house plan to launch the system by offering a “1-day, physically delivered Bitcoin contract”, which will go live as early as November 2018 – subject to CFTC review and approval. To do this, it is creating new protocols for “managing the specific security and settlement requirements of digital currencies.”

“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,” said Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Bakkt. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”

The system also appears to be aiming to prepare the ground for the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment option in more mainstream settings than is currently the case – which, it seems, is where Starbucks comes in.

“Blockchain technology holds tremendous potential to enable new business models and trusted ecosystems,” said Sean Collins, Senior Partner, BCG. “By leveraging and developing fundamental market infrastructure, the Bakkt platform will enable firms across industries to accelerate a range of innovation.”

“As the flagship retailer, Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks,” adds Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks. “As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”

So, with a bit of luck you’ll be buying your lattes with Bitcoin in the next year or so. More on this breaking story as it comes in over the next few days and weeks.