Formerly associated with the underworld drug trade, the cryptocurrency market continues to gain credibility.
Intercontinental Exchange, the American financial giant that owns and operates 23 different exchanges (including the New York Stock Exchange), is reportedly at work on a trading platform that would welcome large, institutional investors to buy and sell bitcoin. This revelation comes from confidential emails and documents unearthed by the New York Times showing that the company aims to follow suit with other established financial institutions (like Goldman Sachs and the Chicago Board Options Exchange) by throwing its hat into the crypto ring.
If these plans are realized, then it’s like a Horatio Alger story about cryptocurrency made real—you don’t get much more mainstream than this. Crypto-traders backed by institutional money would buy and sell bitcoin as if it were, say, Apple stock, significantly helping legitimize public perception of the cryptocurrency. Such a platform would presumably make this type of trading simpler at the same time.
Bitcoin initially came into being as a mechanism to conduct financial transactions without large banks and institutions attached, but “most users and investors don’t care about this,” says Jordan Tuwiner, a digital nomad and cryptocurrency evangelist from Washington, DC. “Coinbase reported over $1 billion in revenue in 2017 while the cryptocurrency market cap approached $1 trillion. It’s a no-brainer that traditional financial players want to get involved—bitcoin and cryptocurrency have become too big to ignore.”
If and when ICE’s crypto-trading platform comes to light, it won’t change much for the standalone investor. Bitcoin works identically whether it’s held by Goldman Sachs or an independent trader.
“Large financial players getting involved with bitcoin is a good thing,” says Tuwiner. “It is already one of the largest 35 currencies in the world. New investors and financial tools will help bitcoin’s price grow while improving liquidity.”
First presented to the public as the contraband dealer’s currency of choice, bitcoin is poised to be traded on Wall Street alongside conventional stocks and commodities.
We’ve come a long way, baby.