Mar 30, 2021 - Economy

Bakkt digital wallet app launches to help bring crypto to consumers

Screenshot of the new app, Bakkt, which allows people to buy, sell and send bitcoin as well as manage their gift cards and rewards programs

Image: Bakkt

Digital currency platform Bakkt launched its consumer app Tuesday. The Bakkt App serves as a digital wallet for loyalty and rewards points and gift cards, as well as bitcoin. 

Why it matters: Building an app that places bitcoin next to commonly used forms of digital assets could help introduce cryptocurrency to people who might not otherwise seek it out.

  • Availability of merchants who accept bitcoin as a form of payment could also help drive adoption, and companies like Tesla and PayPal are helping solve that part of the equation.

How it works: The Bakkt app makes it possible for someone to manage and access the stored value of various digital assets in one place. 

  • It allows people to buy, sell, convert and send bitcoin.
  • Users can convert loyalty and rewards programs, frequent flier miles and gift cards into cash and then reload things like their Starbucks Card saved to the Starbucks app. 
  • Businesses can also sell gift cards at a discount through the app, as well as receive customer payments.

The big picture: The launch comes nearly three years after Bakkt was founded by New York Stock Exchange parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). The company announced plans to go public via a SPAC in January, at an expected valuation of $2.1 billion.

  • Bakkt has operated mainly as a bitcoin futures exchange since late 2019, and with access to more money through the capital markets, the company could expand its platform more significantly and help grow adoption and acceptance of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies even faster.
  • The recent bitcoin boom has been largely driven by Wall Street, Axios’ Dan Primack said on his podcast Axios Re:Cap at the time. “What Bakkt represents is a possible acceleration of that trend, with the IPO of popular crypto-exchange Coinbase soon to follow.”
  • More than half a million people participated in the app's invitation-only Early Access Program prior to Tuesday, the company said.

Listen to Dan’s conversation with CEO Gavin Michael in January on Axios Re:Cap.

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