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Gearing up for Bakkt: A Brief History and Where Things Stand Now

After repeated delays toward launch, Bakkt is hiring for several new positions, a sign that the project could soon go live.

Bakkt aims to build a general-purpose platform for trading and spending digital assets and has some potential to make inroads with mainstream consumers and investors. With launch potentially close, it’s worth reviewing what Bakkt hopes to offer and whether this will really change the crypto landscape.

What Is Bakkt?

Bakkt says that its goal is "to develop open technology to connect existing market and merchant infrastructure to the blockchain." In other words, the company aims to integrate traditional finance systems with crypto assets.

Lots of other organizations say they are doing the same thing, of course. However, what sets Bakkt apart is that it is owned by the Intercontinental Exchange, a finance company that also owns several major stock exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange.

So, unlike all the other crypto startups out there that claim they are going to bridge the gap between the world of traditional investing and crypto, Bakkt already bridges that gap by its very existence, at least in a symbolic sense. In a practical sense, its association with Intercontinental Exchange could do much to attract conventional investors and, eventually, ordinary consumers to the platform it is building.

Although Bakkt says that its goal is to build a holistic platform that will benefit everyone from large-scale investors to everyday consumers, its primary focus to date has been on the former group, for which it plans to build a regulated exchange for trading crypto derivatives.

A Brief History of Bakkt

All of the above is why Bakkt made big headlines when Intercontinental Exchange announced the company in August 2018.

However, folks who were eager to see if Bakkt could finally bring crypto trading into the mainstream have had to do a lot of waiting so far. The company initially planned to launch its derivatives exchange in December, but it then pushed the date back to January 24, saying it needed more time to manage participants for the exchange. But Bakkt recently announced that it will miss that second date, too, saying that it is now waiting on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to approve its plans.

Now, Bakkt’s launch is on hold indefinitely. The U.S. federal government shutdown, which is delaying the CFTC’s review of the platform, has become an additional obstacle.

The recent job listings from Bakkt suggest that the company now expects to move forward — although Bakkt has been relatively tight-lipped about its status, so this interpretation is speculative at best.

Bakkt’s ultimate success may hinge on how quickly it can move. If one of the numerous other platforms aiming to integrate crypto into conventional finance markets launches a complete product before Bakkt goes live, Bakkt’s backing by the Intercontinental Exchange may not be enough to keep it at the top of this competitive market.

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