Bakkt Futures May Be Delayed Again

Federal Christmas holidays may end up delaying the debut of Bakkt, a bitcoin futures and trading platform from NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange. This will be the second delay for Bakkt. It was initially expected to launch during the second week of December but postponed it due to “the work required to get all the pieces (for a bitcoin futures system) in place”. 

A Coindesk report states that ICE is yet to receive CFTC exemption for its plan to custody bitcoin on its own. (Securities laws require that Bakkt place its coins with a third-party qualified custodian). Voting on the exemption, which is likely to be approved, will take place only after a month-long public comment period on the proposal.

However, that period will not begin until next week, after Christmas, making it unlikely that ICE will be able to unveil Bakkt on Jan 24, as previously promised. A government shutdown could further set ICE’s launch schedule askew. According to Coindesk, ICE is expected to announce a new launch date for Bakkt next week. 

The launch of Bakkt futures is expected to further increase bitcoin’s accessibility to investors. Bakkt futures are physically settled, meaning that they will allow redemption of digital bitcoin. This is a significant step forward from cash-settled bitcoin futures currently being traded on CME and Cboe. The trading volume for those futures has been lukewarm as regulatory agencies are still not convinced about the stability of underlying platforms.

According to Eric Ervin, CEO and founder of Blockforce Capital, the SEC is looking for transparency in price and custody. “I believe their (Bakkt) product takes care of those things,” he says, adding that an ETF backed by Bakkt futures “has the potential” to be approved. His firm is already working on one such product.