Business 22 November 2018

Erik Gibbs

ICE to delay launch of Bakkt futures products

For the past few months, the cryptocurrency has been patiently waiting for the launch of a new trading platform. The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owners of the New York Stock Exchange, first revealed the upcoming Bakkt trading platform about three months ago, adding in October that it would introduce Bitcoin Core (BTC) futures trading—its first offering—on December 12. It now appears that executives with the company need more time and have delayed the launch until next year.

In a Medium post this past Tuesday, ICE said that Bakkt expects to be able to offer both trading and warehouse operations beginning on January 24. It added that “the new listing timeframe will provide additional time for customer and clearing member onboarding prior to the start of trading and warehousing of the new contract.”

Kelly Loeffler, who has been tapped to be Bakkt’s CEO, explained that the “work required to get all the pieces in place” has been one factor in the delay. She explained, “As is often true with product launches, there are new processes, risks and mitigants to test and re-test, and in the case of crypto, a new asset class to which these resources are being applied. So, it makes sense to adjust our timeline as we work with the industry toward launch.”

The announcement further indicates that the launch is still “subject to regulatory approval.” This would make it appear as though the exchange has yet to receive approval, which could also be a factor in the decision to delay the new platform. With the original date being only around three weeks away and no approval given, Bakkt would have been behind in its efforts to conduct a successful, strong launch.

While there was no mention made, the recent market tumble could also be a factor in the decision to postpone the launch. With all major cryptocurrencies suffering major losses, the company may have decided to hold off in order to ascertain how the markets were going to move.

While the CBOE and CME exchanges already offer BTC futures, both are cash-settled. Bakkt’s Bitcoin Daily Futures Contract is designed to be the first physically-settled crypto futures product offered by an established financial exchange, a move that has repeatedly been promoted as a possible catalyst for major investments in the cryptocurrency space. However, if Bakkt isn’t able to get rolling, the investor confidence sought through the initiatives will be harder to obtain.

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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