According to The New York Times, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is in the initial stages of opening its own online bitcoin trading platform. The move is yet another case of a Wall Street giant exploring the budding cryptocurrency industry and should it materialize, it will most likely result in more institutional investors entering the digital currency market. It would also have a huge competitive advantage over its current crypto exchange competition, which lacks a mature structure of equities exchanges.
According to documents and numerous anonymous sources, the project is reportedly moved beyond its initial phase but could still be scrapped due to regulatory uncertainty and volatile nature of the crypto markets. Additionally, ICE has already contacted other financial firms in a bid to set up a new platform, which would allow banks to purchase swaps, resulting in the ownership of bitcoin. Swaps are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which has deemed all digital currencies to be commodities.
Georgia-based ICE has first entered the crypto sphere in March, by launching a cryptocurrency data feed. It owns and operates 23 different regulated currency exchanges throughout North America and Europe. It purchased the NYSE in 2013 and is now worth around $40 billion.
The institutional attention towards virtual currencies has been on the rise recently and the news comes just a mere few days after the banking giant Goldman Sachs appeared to confirm the launch of its bitcoin trading desk, which would be the first in the history of Wall Street. Meanwhile, NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman has also joined the hype train, saying the company is open to creating a crypto exchange in the future.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the companies are yet to act on their crypto development plans, although we should probably give them time. After all, we are talking about the biggest global financial institutions and entering a new market, especially one as volatile and controversial as crypto, cannot happen overnight.
Such news sharply contrast with the recent comments from prominent investors that have made the headlines. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet has compared bitcoin to rat poison, while his right-hand man Charlie Munger went further, likening trading bitcoin to ‘trading harvested baby brains’. Yikes. Microsoft founder Bill Gates took a more reserved stance on the matter but nonetheless called bitcoin a ‘Greater Fool Investment’.
While it is hard to argue with some of the wealthiest men on the planet on the matter of wise investments, it seems they do not fully grasp the size and potential of virtual currencies and especially the underlying blockchain technology that is a truly groundbreaking development of our times.
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