Bakkt Sees Most Demand in Bitcoin as the Futures Platform Launch Delayed Until January 2019

News and Analysis

On November 20, ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, announced the delay of the Bakkt Bitcoin futures market launch from December 12 to January 24, 2019.

The statement says Bakkt needs more time to handle the onboarding of customers and clearing members before opening the futures market.

“ICE Futures U.S., Inc. will list the new Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract for trading on trade date Thursday, January 24, 2019, subject to regulatory approval,” the announcement read. “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.”

On Tuesday, the company released an update on their Twitter account explaining why Bitcoin will initially be their primary focus. It says that Bitcoin’s liquidity and classification as a commodity by the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are the primary driving factors behind their decision.

“As the world’s most liquid and widely distributed cryptocurrency, and where we’ve seen the most customer demand, bitcoin’s profile creates a liquid product on which to build a futures contract,” the post says.

In a separate blog post, Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt CEO, explained that Bakkt will be delaying their launch, citing their commitment to releasing a platform that is fully functional on day one as the reasoning behind this decision.

“Given the volume of interest in Bakkt and work required to get all of the pieces in place, we will now be targeting January 24, 2019 for our launch to ensure that our participants are ready to trade on Day 1,” she wrote.

Loeffler also noted significant progress in discussions with regulatory authorities in the U.S. and that Bakkt has been working hard to onboard as many customers as possible.

Bakkt’s CEO also offered several answers to persisting questions in the FAQ section of the Medium post, including the reasoning behind their decision to focus exclusively on Bitcoin, and clarification as to how the price of Bitcoin will be established.

“Given the transparency and regulation of the futures markets, the futures price in a one-day physically settled Bitcoin contract will serve as a price discovery contract for the market. There is no reliance on cash platforms for settlement prices for pricing the daily Bitcoin futures contract,” Kelly Loeffler concluded.

As part of its efforts to develop the product, Bakkt previously announced it was working with BCG, Microsoft and Starbucks. The companies provided assistance in both customer experience and risk management for the product.

Bakkt anticipated launching its futures trading on December. 12. The new date is still subject to regulatory approval, indicating that the platform may not have received such approval yet.

As reported by CCN, following the release of the announcement, rumors emerged that the Bakkt delay caused the price of Bitcoin to drop and the information was leaked to a handful of large-scale investors in the cryptocurrency market.

Some argued, given that Bakkt acknowledged growing demand for its futures product, that investors bought into BTC as it dropped to the low region of $4,000 on Monday and it was all a plan to accumulate more of the dominant cryptocurrency.

However, there exists no evidence to support the theory and the significance of the launch of the Bakkt futures market still remains in question. The impact of the Bitcoin futures market operated by Bakkt on the cryptocurrency sector is an uncertainty and the magnitude of the demand for Bakkt from investors in the US market, who are the target client base of the institution is unclear.

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