When ICE first announced Bakkt in August 2018, the company said it was partnering with Starbucks and other companies to provide a retail experience, but few details of this part of the vision have been shared since. Monday’s announcement said Starbucks will be Bakkt’s first launch partner when the app goes live sometime in the first half of 2020.
Bakkt plans to launch a consumer-facing app to help retail customers transact with cryptocurrencies, the company announced Monday.
In a blog post, Bakkt chief product officer Mike Blandina wrote that the company was working on developing an app to let consumers use digital assets when purchasing goods from merchants.
“We’ll be launching a consumer app to make it easy for consumers to discover and unlock the value of digital assets, as well as ways in which they can transact or track them. Merchants gain access to a broader set of customers with expanded spending power”, Blandina wrote.
He hinted that the app might support more than just bitcoin, which is currently the only digital asset Bakkt and its parent company Intercontinental Exchange provide futures contracts for.
“A key feature of the model we’ve designed is to support a superset of digital assets, including cryptocurrencies as seamlessly as investors transact in stocks in a retail brokerage account”, he wrote. “Our vision is to provide a consumer platform for managing a digital asset portfolio, whether they wish to store, transact, trade or transfer their assets.”
“I have strong conviction that by driving more integration and efficiency across digital wallets, transaction processing and payment acceptance, there are meaningful opportunities for merchants and consumers to seamlessly interact using digital assets in ways that have not been previously considered”, Blandina wrote, adding:
“It is often said that digital assets will be successful when consumers don’t have to think about the technology underlying them.”
Bakkt Raises $300M Series B From Microsoft, Pantera
According to the post, authored by CEO Mike Blandina, Microsoft’s M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital, Pantera Capital and Bakkt parent firm Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) all participated in the funding round.
Blandina also referenced Bakkt’s acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, a loyalty services provider first announced in February 2020. Bakkt, which focused on launching bitcoin futures and options contracts with its parent firm ICE over the first year of operations, announced in October it would be targeting a retail clientele with a consumer-focused app.
ICE CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said during a February earnings call that he saw the acquisition of Bridge2 as potentially opening Bakkt up to an asset class worth $1 trillion.
“I’m excited at our potential to unlock nearly $1 trillion of digital assets when the Bakkt app launches this summer,” Blandina wrote Monday. “With the completion of our Series B financing and recent acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, Bakkt is now a team of 350 employees and powers the loyalty redemption programs for 7 of the top 10 financial institutions and over 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs including two of the largest US airlines.”
The company plans to launch the app by the summer, Blandina said.
“Digital assets have been around for decades, and we all have way more value there than we realize. We’re laser focused on getting consumers access to that value and making it as easy to spend as if it were cash,” Bakkt President Adam White told CoinDesk.