Amid historic drops in the Dow Jones Industrial Average due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Atlanta-based cryptocurrency startup Bakkt has announced the closing of a $300 million Series B funding round.
Atlanta-based company Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange and nearly two dozen additional global exchanges, launched Bakkt in August 2018 to create a “global, regulated ecosystem for digital assets.” The company aims to help regulated institutions and consumers alike take advantage of the increasingly popular $1.2 trillion digital currency market.
Investors included parent company IE, as well as Microsoft’s M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital, and Pantera Capital. The company also announced the creation of a new consumer-facing app and a payment integration with Starbucks that will enable customers to pay for their purchases with digital currency.
The company’s funding round, announced in a Medium blog post written by CEO Mike Blandina, will be used to “leverage the technology, infrastructure and partners across our businesses to bring innovative new products to market and in doing so expand access to the global economy.”
However, the stock market appears to be in free fall at the moment, taking cryptocurrency prices down with it.
The Dow nosedived by a whopping 2,997 points, or 12.93 percent, and dipped to 20,188.52 on Monday, closing at its lowest total since May 2017. The crash, related to a global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, represented the index’s biggest percentage drop since the “Black Monday” crash of 1987 — and the largest point decline in its history.
Many investors believe that cryptocurrency might provide a bit of a safe haven, considering its rapid rise in 2019, but its value has cratered as well. Bitcoin has lost some 30 percent in the past five days, dipping below $6,000 for the first time since last May and briefly sliding below $5,000 yesterday. What’s more, other cryptocurrency exchanges have lost as much as 60 percent of their value over the past month.
As Yahoo! Finance reported yesterday, “Coronavirus, a so-called black swan event, has become such a massive shock to the global economy that basically every asset class is down, creating a risk-off environment in which crypto, already a notoriously risky investment, isn’t very attractive. Investors are hurriedly selling off stocks, and they’re not moving that cash into crypto.”
Bakkt provides a federally regulated futures exchange and clearinghouse, as well as a warehouse designed to protect customers’ digital assets. The company’s Bitcoin Futures and Options contracts offer customers a fully regulated marketplace for the price discovery of bitcoin and help them manage the risks associated with the market.
In addition, Bakkt helps everyday people enter and take advantage of the digital currency market.
“We take a broad view of digital assets,” Blandina continued. “Whether it’s miles from your favorite airline, loyalty points from the local grocery store, or bitcoin you’ve purchased, the Bakkt app enables you to aggregate all of these assets into a single digital wallet.”
Following Bakkt’s acquisition of customer loyalty solutions provider Bridge2 Solutions in February, the company also announced that its long-awaited consumer app will launch this summer. The app, according to Blandina, will let consumers use digital currency to shop, give out to friends, and even convert them to cash.
“With the launch of the Bakkt app, we will, for the first time, offer consumers a robust platform to consolidate and use all of their digital assets, from crypto to loyalty points to in game tokens, in one user-friendly wallet,” said Blandina said in a statement last month. “Combining Bridge2 Solutions’ embedded relationships with banks and merchants and their innovative Loyalty Pay solution will enable us to launch new products that further drive loyalty and empower consumers to trade, transfer and spend digital assets in entirely new ways.”
As a result of the acquisition, Bakkt has expanded to 350 employees and now powers the loyalty redemption programs for seven of the top 10 financial institutions and more than 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs around the world.
“Bakkt was created to help bring transparency and trust to the previously unregulated digital asset markets,” Intercontinental Exchange founder, chairman, and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said in a statement. “ Bakkt’s … acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions will help accelerate the development of Bakkt’s consumer application, which has been a key part of our strategy since we first looked at this market.”