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Intercontinental Exchange Launches Digital Assets Company

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Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the NYSE, announced late last week that it is launching an exchange for digital assets.

In a press release, it said 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. Intercontinental Exchange said Bakkt is working with 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 global network. The company said the Bakkt ecosystem is expected to include federally regulated markets and warehousing along with merchant and consumer applications. The first use case for the new exchange will be trading of Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency. “In bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, we aim to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, in the press release.

According to Intercontinental Exchange, Bakkt is being developed to help the digital asset markets evolve securely and at the same time support transaction flows. “Bakkt is designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security, and utility,” said Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Bakkt, in the same press release. “We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.” Meanwhile, Maria Smith, vice president, partnerships and payments for Starbucks, said the coffee chain operator will play a “pivotal role” in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert digital assets into U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks. “As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers,” she said.

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

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