Bakkt, a new cryptocurrency exchange which is being operated by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has pushed back its launch to 24 January 2019, and this is still subject to regulatory approval. It originally projected that physical Bitcoin futures would launch on 12 December 2018. The announcement came on a day Bitcoin price hit new lows not seen since October 2017, briefly dipping to as low as USD 4,000.

There are already futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) but since these are cash settled, they do not directly influence Bitcoin’s spot demand or price. Experts in the crypto space believe physical Bitcoin futures on Bakkt could be a major conduit for institutional money to enter the market as this product would have been available on all major stock trading platforms. Bakkt futures would settle the same day and investors would receive Bitcoin directly into their wallets, which would have directly increased spot demand and price.

The CEO of Bakkt, Kelly Loeffler, wrote in a blog post that Bakkt has been working closely with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and a thorough review is underway. Loeffler said, “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. 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.”

Beyond the delay, Loeffler asserts that Bakkt is making substantial progress, such as securing insurance for Bitcoin cold storage and potentially getting insurance for Bitcoin hot wallets. Loeffler states, “We are focused on every aspect of delivering an institutional grade crypto warehouse solution and believe this is a significant step in building confidence in this asset class.”

This announcement comes at a particularly unfortunate time for the Bitcoin market, with the price declining from USD 6,500 to USD 4,600 in about a week, coinciding with SEC enforcement against initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the Bitcoin Cash fork.

 

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