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Intercontinental Exchange Plans To Form Bakkt

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) said that it plans to form a new company, Bakkt, which intends to leverage Microsoft cloud solutions to create an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets. The new company is working with a marquee group of organizations including BCG, Microsoft, Starbucks, and others, to create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.

The Bakkt ecosystem is expected to include federally regulated markets and warehousing along with merchant and consumer applications. Its first use cases will be for trading and conversion of Bitcoin versus fiat currencies, as Bitcoin is today the most liquid digital currency. The effort is designed to address evolving needs in the estimated $270 billion digital asset marketplace.

Applications for digital currencies continue to develop alongside regulatory frameworks and rising investment in blockchain technology which, halfway through 2018, has already exceeded all of 2017, according to KPMG. By leveraging trusted market infrastructure, Bakkt is being engineered to help the digital asset markets evolve securely and efficiently while supporting transaction flows.

As an initial component of the Bakkt offering, Intercontinental Exchange's U.S.-based futures exchange and clearing house plan to launch a 1-day physically delivered Bitcoin contract along with physical warehousing in November 2018, subject to CFTC review and approval. These regulated venues will establish new protocols for managing the specific security and settlement requirements of digital currencies. In addition, the clearing house plans to create a separate guarantee fund that will be funded by Bakkt.

In addition to Intercontinental Exchange and M12, Microsoft's venture capital arm, investors in Bakkt are expected to include, among others, an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures, Alan Howard, Pantera Capital, Protocol Ventures, and Susquehanna International Group, LLP.

Bakkt is currently in preparation for launch and further operational details will be announced in the coming weeks.

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