Since the craze of 2017, each year in the crypto and blockchain space has been more and more hectic. 2019 was no exception: with Facebook’s Libra project and the efforts of the digital yuan in China, the digital asset platform of Intercontinental Exchange Bakkt was finally launched. Its CEO, Kelly Loeffler, ensured a good start to the exchange, then quickly left his company to pursue a political career by the end of the year. She now represents the State of Georgia in the United States Senate and, as one of the most influential people affiliated with the crypto industry, she could potentially pave the way for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to Washington.
From an Illinois farm to Atlanta’s highest business circles
Loeffler was born in Bloomington, Illinois on November 27, 1970. She grew up on her family’s farm in Stanford, working in the soybean fields. “We were just living,” said Loeffler at a recent press conference. “Life revolved around agriculture, the church, the school and 4-H.” She would have started to be interested in the stock markets from the age of 10; his mother monitored commodity prices on a kitchen towel every day before lunch.
In 1988 Loeffler graduated from Olympia High School, where she participated in various sports – including cross-country, track and basketball (she has since purchased Atlanta’s dream from the National’s Basketball Association women). Her high school peers described her as “very bright and articulate and just a sort of beacon of light in her class.”
In 1992 Loeffler graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She then obtained a master’s degree in business administration from DePaul University in Chigaco in 1999.
In 2002, she joined the Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE, after working at Toyota, Citibank, finance company William Blair and private equity fund manager The Crossroads Group. At the time, ICE was a two-year-old Atlanta-based start-up specializing in energy products (crude and refined oil, natural gas, electricity and emissions), and Loeffler began managing investor relations there. Two years later, she married the company’s CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, who sees their relationship as her greatest risk “because if it didn’t work, she would be on the phone.” Together, they made ICE what it is today: an operator of 13 major international exchanges, including the largest in the world, the New York Stock Exchange. Currently, ICE’s market capitalization is estimated at $ 52.5 billion, while Loeffler and Sprecher live in Atlanta’s most expensive building – a 15,000 square foot mansion with a price of $ 10.5 million. dollars.
Loeffler’s fast but hectic career in crypto
Loeffler’s views on cryptography are elaborate, as she prefers technological breakthrough to flashy numbers:
“Notably, 2018 has been the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history. This has been highlighted by increased investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as the daily transaction value in bitcoins and active addresses. Yet these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the narrower focus on the price of bitcoin, which has been viewed by some as an indicator of the potential of the technology. “
So, in 2018, Loeffler entered the crypto industry by becoming CEO of Bakkt, a digital asset platform launched by ICE and supported by Microsoft and Starbucks, among other investors. “We are working together to create an open platform that helps unleash the transformative potential of digital assets in global markets and commerce,” she said in the Bakkt announcement. The trademark feature of Bakkt is the physically delivered BTC futures contracts, while the BTC futures contracts traded by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange are settled in cash.
The launch of the platform was delayed several times, and when it finally took off in September 2019, the first results were poor: despite analysts’ upside forecasts, only 71 BTC (worth around $ 700,000) at the time) were exchanged within the first 24 hours.
Nevertheless, the numbers quickly started to accelerate. On October 26, the platform traded up to 1,183 Bitcoin futures – worth around $ 11 million – in a single day.
Bakkt then decided to capitalize on this positive development. On December 9, the platform unveiled two new Bitcoin investment products: the monthly Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) options and the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) cash settled futures. According to Bakkt, the monthly options product is the first Bitcoin futures contract regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the United States. In addition, Bakkt teased a consumer app developed in collaboration with Starbucks and aimed at helping consumers “unleash the value of digital assets, as well as the means by which they can process or track them”, in its quest to integrate crypto in the mainstream.
Yet despite the successful start that marked one of the key milestones in crypto last year, Loeffler left the digital asset platform to pursue a career in Washington, DC In December, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has appointed the CEO of Bakkt to a headquarters in the United States. Senate, replacing Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired due to health problems. Loeffler is the second woman in history to represent Georgia in the Senate and now the most senior political lawyer in the crypto community.
As a result, Loeffler abandoned the crypto platform of ICE. “We are grateful to Kelly for her many contributions to the intercontinental exchange spanning 17 years and we will lack her wisdom and advice on the Bakkt management and leadership team,” said one ICE spokesperson in a press release.
Washington and potential conflict of interest
Despite leaving Bakkt, Loeffler can continue to participate in the growth of the crypto industry as a legislator. Indeed, John Todaro, director of research on digital currency at the New York data provider TradeBlock, had previously told Cointelegraph: “Kelly Loeffler obviously understands space and is a supporter of it, and therefore, if necessary, on the issues before the Senate, I imagine she would be a supporter of bitcoin and other digital currency platforms. “
Loeffler started his Senate career on a high note, supporting six bills in his first week in office. So far, all of his movements have been strictly conservative (Loeffler and her husband donated a total of $ 3.2 million to political committees, most of which were Republican). As Loeffler said herself, she is “pro-second amendment, pro-military, pro-Wall and pro-Trump”. Ironically, some previous media reports indicate that Trump is not a Loeffler fan and preferred to see another candidate for the US Congress seat.
Most recently, Loeffler joined the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC, a regulatory agency that significantly oversees cryptocurrency trading. This creates a potential conflict of interest, as her husband is still the CEO of ICE, a foreign exchange operator who is “subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission”, according to her annual report.
Loeffler said that she would recuse herself “if necessary on a case-by-case basis”. She told the Wall Street Journal, “I have worked hard to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Senate’s ethical rules and will continue to do so every day.” Loeffler will hold the position until special elections are held in November 2020, when she will have to win the vote to stay in power. To this end, it plans to spend $ 20 million of its own funds.
Kelly Loeffler is ranked # 3 in the very first Cointelegraph Top 100 in crypto and blockchain.