Funding Secured: Bitcoin Platform Bakkt Snags $182.5M

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Two hands of businessmen passing a stack of dollars

2018 hasn’t been kind to the Bitcoin industry. Yet, investors still seem poised to throw copious sums of money at promising startups, even as cryptocurrencies continue to trade in a chaotic manner.

Bakkt Delays Bitcoin Futures Launch

On New Year’s Eve (December 31st), the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the organization that parents the New York Stock Exchange, revealed that the launch of Bakkt will be deferred. Bakkt, for those not in the loop, is a crypto-friendly platform for consumers, merchants, and institutions alike that has been backed by ICE, Microsoft, and Starbucks.

The American startup’s first product, physically-backed Bitcoin (BTC) futures, was slated to go live by 2018’s end. Yet, after some deliberation and internal shortcomings, the vehicle’s inaugural trading day was pushed back until late-January. But with this most recent update, it seems that another setback had befallen Bakkt’s dream team.

In an ICE-stamped document, firm representatives claimed that the late-January launch will be “amended pursuant to the [U.S.] CFTC’s process and timeline.” And while this statement was nebulous, considering that “early 2019” was mentioned, along with the fact that the CFTC has been amicable with Bitcoin historically, Bakkt isn’t fini.

Yet, as the extended government shutdown continues to bless America with its presence, directly harming the aforementioned financial regulator’s operations, further delays are a possibility.

Not Dead In The Water

However, in spite of the seemingly dreary news, Bakkt is far from dead in the water. On the same day that the postponement news propagated, Kelly Loeffler, the chief executive at Bakkt, released a year-end update to calm the crypto community’s qualms.

Through a Medium post, Loeffler, wed to the head of ICE, who is also a Bitcoin proponent, stated that Bakkt has completed its first round of funding. 12 partners and investors, including Boston Consulting Group, Mike Novogratz‘s Galaxy Digital, ICE, Microsoft’s venture arm, and San Francisco-based Pantera Capital made capital allocations. Funds contributed amounted to a jaw-dropping $182.5 million, making Bakkt’s round one of the highest crypto-related fundraisers of all-time.

With this influx of funding, the startup intends to continue working on “driving institutional access” for blockchain-based assets, while also bolstering merchant and consumer adoption. Eventually, Loeffler made it clear that her firm intends to truly collaborate with Starbucks. But the details of that ambition weren’t fully divulged.

Loeffler did note, however, that her, alongside former Coinbase Institutional head Adam White, will share details as the duo work through “Bakkt’s 2019 objectives” to provide new infrastructure, “including the industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”

The chief also addressed its regulatory status, claiming that Bakkt’s top brass continue to work with CFTC representatives, as the company awaits a green light.

And it seems that Loeffler’s optimism is well warranted. Citing an internal source at ICE, The Block has confirmed that three individuals have joined Bakkt, and will be integral to the startup’s plans from henceforth.

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