The CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Jeff Sprecher, said he expects the company’s much-anticipated cryptoasset platform, Bakkt, to launch later this year.
Sprecher made the comment two days ago on an earnings call about ICE’s Q4 financial results. He noted that the exchange “invest[ed] over $1 billion in strategic initiatives including fixed income, mortgages and along with our partners the launch of Bakkt.”
ICE’s CFO Scott Hill elaborated on the company’s expectations for how much Bakkt will continue to cost develop going forward:
“… our investment in Bakkt will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter. We will update you on progress at Bakkt and the level of investment as we move through the year.”
ICE operates 23 leading exchanges globally, including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In August, ICE first announced their plans to develop Bakkt, which its website describes the platform as “an open, seamless global network to enable you to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets simply, safely and efficiently.” The company has garnered buzz in recent months for announcing partnerships with Microsoft and Starbucks. Late last year, ICE announced Bakkt would be built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology, and work with Starbucks in order to create a service that will convert cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars so crypto can be used to make purchases in Starbucks locations. Other notable investors include Pantera Capital, Fortress Investment Group, and Susquehanna International Group.
Later in the call, after being asked what type of returns he expected from Bakkt, Sprecher described the project as a sort of low percentage but high reward proposition:
So it’s a bit of a moonshot bet and it’s been organized in a manner that is very different than the way ICE typically does businesses. Bakkt has its own offices, its own management team and et cetera…. They’re well along in building out an infrastructure that I think you’ll see launch later this year.”
Bakkt was meant to launch in early 2019, but it was delayed due to ongoing discussions with United States Commodities Futures and Trading Commission.