TL;DR: According to cryptocurrency derivative analytics firm Skew, “It’s been 10 days since the last [BTC] option trade on Bakkt.” After launching its platform last year, the much-hyped institutionally backed BTC-centric exchange has been fond of touting its rising trade volumes. That interest in its latest options product appears to have slowed dramatically might signal all is far from well.
Bakkt BTC Options See Zero Trades in the Last 10 Days
Bakkt parent company, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), was supposed to be the necessary pedigree a BTC-oriented exchange would need to succeed in attracting institutional investors. Different from its legacy rivals in Chicago (CME, Cboe), Bakkt could laser focus upon the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, offering a unique trading opportunity for shy traditional investment houses to at least toe-dip into the wild world of crypto speculation.
In mid-December of last year, Bakkt launched its Bitcoin Monthly Options (BMO) product alongside a cash-settled futures announcement. The BMO was marketed as, “The first CFTC regulated option on futures contract for bitcoin,” and conceptually rolled out in late October before going live. By November, its CEO was on to Washington, DC to try her hand as a US Senator from Georgia (a new executive took the reigns about a month later). How much a change at the top might have impacted confidence in the BMO and Bakkt is far from certain.
Now US Senator Kelly Loeffler appeared on nearly all of Bakkt’s rollercoaster initial launch press and media junkets. Young-ish, tall, blonde, rather stoic and mannequin, Loeffler was known as a steady hand from the traditional finance world with previous stints at Citibank, William Blair & Company, the Crossroads Group, and ICE. It also didn’t hurt she was married to ICE founder and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher. ICE owns a dozen regulated exchanges around the world, including the so-called Big Board, the granddaddy, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and Sprecher is currently Chairman of the NYSE.
That’s hard to beat in terms of clout, but that Loeffler would leave so soon from Bakkt after only formally in trading operation for relative weeks might signal tough days ahead for the exchange. It’s not the first setback for Bakkt.
Its initial trading launch faced multiple delays (all under Loeffler’s leadership), and at one point was even blamed by mainstream analysts for crashing crypto markets for its early lackluster performance. Not too long after, economist Alex Krüger insisted whatever volume the exchange did have, it wasn’t “even remotely the case” customers were taking physical delivery — a key selling point in differentiating its business model.
The BMO was perhaps thought to breathe more excitement and, a cynical analyst might presume, distract from upper management shuffling and bumbling. Signs, however, for the BMO weren’t good even before the present 10-day drought. Compared to its CME rival, precious more than $1 million in Bakkt BMOs traded over the previous month. CME announced, however, 55 such contracts were traded on its first day, valued at nearly $2.1 million.
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