Intercontinentalexchange Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher says the crypto winter helped with the delayed launch timetable of Bakkt, a regulated crypto futures exchange headed by his wife Kelly Loeffler. | Source: AP Photo/Richard Drew

By The bitcoin bear market of 2018 was a disaster for most crypto fans, but it was a boon for the highly-anticipated cryptocurrency trading platform Bakkt. That’s the opinion of NYSE chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Bakkt’s parent company, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

Sprecher’s ICE — along with Microsoft, Starbucks, and BCG — is bankrolling Bakkt, whose CEO is Sprecher’s wife, Kelly Loeffler.

sprecher: bitcoin winter was good for bakkt

Sprecher tried to put a positive spin on the Crypto Winter by saying it gave Bakkt time to build out the platform and buy up bitcoin at relatively cheap prices.

“It’s really been helpful that the cryptocurrency industry sort of went into what they call a winter,” Sprecher said on a call with analysts. “That took some of the heat off of the timetable to launch.”

Bakkt — which will facilitate bitcoin futures trading for institutional investors — electrified the crypto community in August 2018, when it announced its imminent launch.

Bakkt will provide custody and price discovery for bitcoin — which is regulated as a commodity by the CFTC — in a way that’s designed to be free from market manipulation and fraud.

bakkt launch delayed multiple times

Bakkt was supposed to go live in January 2019, but the roll-out has been postponed several times amid regulatory delays. Right now, there is no set launch date for the new platform.

On the positive side, Jeffrey Sprecher says the delays enabled Bakkt to recruit new talent and make key acquisitions.

“We’ve actually looked at a number of different companies and acquired a company earlier this week that wouldn’t have been available to us if the market had been really hot.”

On April 29, Bakkt acquired crypto-custody firm Digital Asset Custody for an undisclosed amount. The purchase is part of Bakkt’s efforts to win regulatory approval for its crypto products.

sprecher: bitcoin will survive downturns

In 2018, the crypto market was roiled by bitcoin price plunges, mass layoffs, and bitcoin evangelists fleeing the industry.

Despite these setbacks, Sprecher remains bullish about the future of virtual currencies.

Sprecher is confident that digital assets have a bright future, notwithstanding the recent downturn. “The unequivocal answer is yes [crypto will survive],” Sprecher said in November 2018.

Moreover, Sprecher says bitcoin is the yardstick by which all others cryptocurrencies are measured — and that won’t change.

“Somehow bitcoin has lived in a swamp and survived. There are thousands of other tokens that you could argue are better, but yet bitcoin continues to survive, thrive, and attract attention.”

jeff sprecher: bakkt is a ‘moonshot bet’

Sprecher doubled-down on his bullish stance in February 2019, when he called Bakkt a “moonshot bet” for Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the NYSE.

“It’s a bit of a moonshot bet and it’s been organized in a manner that is very different than the way ICE typically does businesses.”

“Bakkt has its own offices, its own management team. They’re well along in building out an infrastructure that I think you’ll see launch later this year.”

Similarly, J. Christopher Giancarlo, the retiring chairman of the CFTC, foresees a massive spike in interest in cryptocurrencies with the launch of bitcoin futures products.

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