Super apps unlock creative possibilities
The crypto market may have taken a beating lately, but Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael isn’t too worried.
“I think we’re past the tipping point of whether a company should have a crypto strategy,” said Michael, whose company’s digital wallet handles digital assets from cryptocurrency and gift cards to loyalty points and in-game assets.
“We think crypto has proven it’s here to stay,” he said. “Consumers are still very interested in cryptocurrency and other digital assets. And that interest really isn’t waning.”
That’s why he argues that companies of all sizes should now “evaluate what their crypto strategy should be, based on their unique customer mix and pain points.”
In fact, the consumer-facing “super app” wallet is only part of what Bakkt does, according to Michael.
The company, which was spun off from New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange – better known as ICE – six months ago for its own NYSE listing, is primarily a B2B2C platform, he said.
It’s focused, he said, on the “next hundred million” consumers at the “intersection of crypto, payments and loyalty.” Consumers using, Michael argued, the digital assets that are the “connective tissue of the new economy” that they operate on a daily basis.
Some of that means expanding consumer-focused offerings, such as allowing Wyndham Rewards members to use the loyalty points earned from staying at its hotels when using Apple Pay or Google Pay. Bakkt is also looking at adding support for cryptocurrencies beyond the big two, bitcoin and ethereum’s ether, and will soon allow users to add funds to their digital wallets in real time.
Michael said the company’s strategy plays out in four ways, the first being the ability to buy and sell crypto. Bakkt is looking to expand beyond bitcoin and ether, he added.
“We are obviously very focused on payments on the use of digital assets in the payment stream,” he said.
It could mean sending money to friends. Or pay with bitcoin and ether with Bakkt virtual Visa debit cards. Or with loyalty points. And that could also mean helping employers pay employees in crypto.
“This has a very strong appeal to the gaming economy, to the sharing economy,” where there is a war for talent, Michael said. A crypto payment offering, he added, is a way for employers to appeal to a younger, more crypto-savvy crowd and differentiate their companies.
The third is a crypto-reward offering that appeals to the same crypto-friendly crowd that is interested in earning rewards passively.
“Our ultimate offering is about building loyalty,” Michael said. “We deliver turnkey loyalty solutions to some of the largest financial institutions and biggest brands in the market … providing opportunities [for clients] to be able to use points for travel experiences, for hotel experiences, for Apple products and other goods.”
Michael believes crypto has proven itself and is here to stay. And companies are noticing consumer interest and want to “make sure they’re not on the back foot — we’re helping them catch up,” he said.
Bakkt’s focus, he added, is “building our capability into our partners’ ecosystems to really bring crypto into their world. And we’re doing that with partners like MasterCard, like Fiserv Pay, like Finastra. We recently announced Global Payments. These the partners help us scale our business quickly by building the functionality into their core platforms – so their banks, their credit unions, their issuers can take advantage of these capabilities.”
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