Alpharetta cryptocurrency company makes New York Stock Exchange debut

Bakkt, an offspring of ICE, was formerly led by Senator Kelly Loeffler

Bakkt, the cryptocurrency trading platform co-founded by former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, began trading as a stock on Monday after raising nearly half a billion dollars last week.

Bakkt, based in Alpharetta, on Friday completed a merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, a so-called blank check company formed to take another company public. The deal generated $448 million for Bakkt and allowed its shares to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Intercontinental Exchange, the Atlanta company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, remains the majority shareholder in Bakkt stock. Loeffler, who was previously Bakkt’s CEO, no longer has a formal role at either company.

Bakkt allows users to store cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in digital wallets, along with U.S. dollars and rewards points from Starbucks, Choice Hotels International and other consumer companies.

“We think consumers will want a small number of digital wallets to see the majority of their assets,” Intercontinental Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher said in an interview Monday.

Cryptocurrency skeptics include billionaire investors and Wall Street executives. Sprecher acknowledged there’s no guarantee the product has a future, but said the trillions of dollars invested in the sector can’t be ignored. The cryptocurrency market capitalization topped $2 trillion in August, according to CoinDesk.

“You don’t necessarily have to embrace cryptocurrency, but I wouldn’t discount it,” Sprecher said.

Bakkt shares started trading amid a huge spike in the value of Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency. Bitcoin gained as much as 5.5% in Monday trading, rising to as high as $61,032 for a single Bitcoin, close to its all-time high.

Shares of Bakkt fell about 1% to $9.32 in early Monday afternoon trading.

A Bakkt account allows users to buy and sell their own cryptocurrencies, and to pay for items using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum’s Ether.

The market for cryptocurrency wallets is already competitive. The largest platform, Coinbase, recently held an IPO and has advertised aggressively to gain market share.

Bakkt hopes to stand out by operating its own consumer-based mobile phone app, and providing infrastructure for companies like Starbucks to offer digital wallets.