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  • Writer's pictureP Xenos and M Bacina

Bakkt announces bold plans for digital asset evolution

Mike Blandina, Chief Product Officer of Bakkt, recently released a blog post outlining plans to build trust in digital assets, emphasizing the need for a "trusted, compliant infrastructure to build confidence and efficiency for merchants, consumers, and institutions to participate more actively in Bitcoin and crypto markets."

Bakkt is a bitcoin futures exchange and digital assets platform founded in 2018 by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 2019, Bakkt announced that it had acquired Digital Asset Custody Company (DACC) to bolster its crypto asset custody and storage capabilities.

In his post, Mike states that:

Billions of dollars in digital assets exist today across the world, such as bitcoin, cashback and rewards, in addition to other forms of digital value relied upon by consumers and merchants. 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.

Bakkt sets out four mechanisms by which this is to be achieved:

  1. Diminishing the friction in the use of digital assets to reflect their aggregate value and the subsequent increase in purchasing power. This new enterprise-grade infrastructure is said to allow merchants to accept payment at a lower cost per transaction along with more rapid settlement times.

  2. 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.

  3. Developing the concept of a consumer-driven platform that offers the ultimate control over their digital assets, including the flexibility on how to use them. Affording more control over costs and innovative customer engagement to merchants, freeing up capital and supporting a direct relationship with their customers.

  4. Advocating for consumers who remain outside or hesitant to enter into the digital asset space, and for merchants who want to accept new, efficient forms of payments without increasing risks.

Coffee behemoth Starbucks will be Bakkt's first launch partner, and will begin accepting digital payments in its stores through a newly developed app and merchant portal.

Starbucks’ vice president of partnerships and payments, Maria Smith, said: 

Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into US dollars for use at Starbucks.

It's not yet clear precisely how Bakkt will exchange digital assets into fiat currency at point-of-sale and how much that will involve a blockchain system, the overarching sentiment in 'unlocking the value of digital assets' is positive and sure to drive greater use of digital assets.

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