ICE Founder: ‘We’re Kind of Agnostic’ on Bitcoin’s Price

Stan Higgins
Nov 27, 2018 at 15:20 UTC
Updated Nov 27, 2018 at 15:30 UTC
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“We’re kind of agnostic on price.”

That’s Jeffrey Sprecher, the founder, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), speaking during a panel discussion at CoinDesk’s Consensus: Invest conference on Tuesday. Sprecher appeared with Kelly Loeffler, the CEO of Bakkt, the bitcoin futures platform backed by ICE that is gearing up for a planned launch early next year.

Sprecher was responding to a question from moderator Michael J. Casey about the recent drop in bitcoin prices (as well as those around the wider cryptocurrency market). According to Loeffler, a focus on price isn’t really a factor for Bakkt, which in August unveiled its plan to create “an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets,”

“The price is being expressed but there’s a lot of missing infrastructure and use cases,” she remarked.

The appearance by Loeffler and Sprecher – the latter of whom’s exchange operator giant is backing Bakkt – covered a range of topics, including the push to appeal to institutional investors, whether the firm is competing with crypto startup Coinbase, and the reasoning behind its announcement last week that it was pushing a previously-announced December launch window to late January.

According to Loeffler, the delay was pursued in part because “the pipeline filled up with customers” following the August unveiling. She further positioned the move as a way to boost the chances of success by pushing the product launch past the holiday season.

As for what Bakkt is aiming to achieve – apart from the launch of futures products as well as planned initiatives with companies like Starbucks to develop payment-focused use cases – Loefller highlighted the push for price discovery to occur in markets that are regulated at the federal level.

“If you think about commodities or equity indices, the S&P500, that price is established in a federally regulated market, we don’t have that in the crypto market today. That’s what we’re focused on bringing along with a myriad of other features.” Loeffler explained.

The panel ended on a question central to Bakkt’s launch: why it’s focusing on bitcoin initially. According to Sprecher, that’s because of the broader market’s acceptance of bitcoin as the top cryptocurrency.

“Oftentimes in finance, it’s not about being the best; it turns out about being the broadest and the most commonly accepted,” he remarked, concluding:

“And for whatever reason, bitcoin has sort of became that.”

Photo by Stan Higgins for CoinDesk

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