Starbucks, Microsoft Back Bitcoin ETF And Stakes Are Huge

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Investors may want to mark their calendars on Sept. 30 and Nov. 5 for potential spike in Bitcoin’s value because wider acceptance of BTC could be on the line.

On Sept. 30, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will rule on whether to approve the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). (Here’s their application.) This year, the U.S. financial regulator disapproved prior ETF applicants but there’s mounting pressure from Corporate America to bring cryptocurrency to the masses. And with business-friendly President Donald Trump occupying the White House, the SEC could lend a sympathetic ear to groups that bring credibility.

On Tuesday Sept. 4, Bill Barhydt, CEO of Bitcoin payment startup Abra, told CNBC that he would “bet” on one ETF getting regulatory approval within a year. “It’s going to happen in the next year, I would actually make a bet on it. There is too much demand for it.”

Buying With Bitcoin

Companies are looking to bring Bitcoin to Main Street — such as BTC mutual funds, 401(k) accounts, crypto credit cards and retail — all in a federally-regulated framework. Imagine buying coffee with digital coins: You’ve probably read about it but have you actually done it?

Starbucks, Microsoft and Boston Consulting Group are investors in Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of New York Stock Exchange. Although ICE has not revealed investment size of the above companies, it wants to roll out a Bitcoin ETF on Nov. 5, subject to government approval. This summer, ICE formed a new company, Bakkt, that wants to form a cryptocurrency exchange for the mainstream crowd.

“In November, ICE Futures U.S. and ICE Clear U.S. plans to launch its first physically delivered bitcoin futures and warehouse in coordination with Bakkt, subject to regulatory review and approval,” reads a statement on Bakkt’s website. “This will enable access for institutional investors via regulated market infrastructure.”

Not much is known about Bakkt (a word play on “backed”) because it has been operating in secrecy for over a year, according to an August 2018 interview with Fortune.

In an Aug. 20 blog, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler said “Whether you’re an investment manager seeking federally regulated, institutional trading and security solutions or a consumer looking for more choice in transacting, we’re working to make the vision for wider application of digital assets a reality.” She also outlined three pillars of a proven exchange: “a consistent regulatory construct; transparent, efficient price discovery; and an institutional quality pre- and post-trade infrastructure.”

Bitcoin continues to rebound after hitting a three-month low of $5,800. Sept. 30 and Nov. 5 are key dates for its near-term valuation. Hermann Finnbjörnsson, founder and CEO of Svandis, told on Sept. 3 “I believe that [Bitcoin will] hit $10,000 by the first week of November” because of ICE’s plans for a Bitcoin ETF.

Loeffler adds “With the potential for efficiency and innovation, the focus on new applications and infrastructure indicates a strong appetite for [cryptp] market and technology.”

Given their vested interest in a Bitcoin ETF and exchange, we can infer that Starbucks and Microsoft feel the same way.


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