Business 26 September 2018Dan Taylor
Bakkt platform’s first offering? Physical crypto futures
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the company behind the New York Stock Exchange and startup crypto platform Bakkt, has announced its first product for the Bakkt platform—physical crypto futures.
The crypto futures, mainly in BTC, will be available to be traded against three separate fiat currencies, the U.S. dollar, the GBP and the Euro, respectively. Designed to attract institutional investors, Bakkt promises a “regulated ecosystem” for investing in cryptocurrency products, which will debut with the launch of the physical futures.
Announcing the futures product, the company described on Twitter how this would work for investors, noting, “For example, buying one USD/BTC futures contract will result in daily delivery of one [BTC] into the customer’s account.”
Our first contracts will be physically delivered Bitcoin futures contracts versus fiat currencies, including USD, GBP and EUR. For example, buying one USD/BTC futures contract will result in daily delivery of one Bitcoin into the customer’s account.
— Bakkt (@Bakkt) September 25, 2018
Crucially, the product is differentiated from exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which would enable investors to trade cryptocurrency markets without physically taking ownership of underlying cryptocurrency.
A number of crypto ETF proposals have been considered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in recent months, despite none thus far being granted listing approval.
Several proposals remain under consideration by the SEC, but analysts believe the SEC cannot yet give approval to an ETF in the current regulatory climate. Physical crypto futures would aim to service the same market of institutional investors, but crucially delivers physical BTC tokens to investors, rather than a paper claim, as with ETFs.
Bakkt’s Tuesday announcement follows on from a statement of confirmation in August, when the firm clarified its position on margin trading, saying that they wouldn’t “serve to create a paper claim on a real asset.”
The platform has until now come in for criticism for the lack of apparent details around its offering, or how it would aim to attract institutional investors to the crypto space as envisaged. Bakkt’s most recent announcement will most likely go some way towards assuaging these concerns, as it gears up for its launch in November. If successful, the platform could provide a mechanism for institutional investors to take exposure to crypto markets, in the absence of an approved crypto ETF.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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