Bakkt executives rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 22. On that day investors could have picked up Bakkt shares for about $9 each. They could have sold them for up to $30 by the following Monday. On October 29 the shares opened at about $25 before reaching a high of $37.45.
Bakkt was founded by Kelly Loeffler from within Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE), the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. She left to become a U.S. Senator from Georgia but lost her re-election bid.
Whatever your politics, she’s better at business.
The Bakkt idea is to make everything fungible, from frequent flyer miles and loyalty points to cryptocurrency, all convertible into cash and merchandise.
I wrote about Bakkt in January, when it was first talking of a public offering. It was described as a “digital assets marketplace,” built on a wallet app supporting 30 loyalty programs and 200 gift cards. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) was already using it to reload its mobile payment app.
Bakkt came public because of interest in Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD). But the stock took off because of a deal with Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and Fiserv (NYSE:FIS). The first is a credit card company, the second is a transaction processor. For Mastercard, the deal lets it support crypto in its loyalty programs. Fiserv gets Bakkt into the mainstream of card processing.
Earlier Bakkt signed a deal with Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google, which lets users plug their Bakkt cards into Google Pay to buy and sell goods and services. Privately-held Finastra has also signed a deal to link Bakkt to community banks and credit unions. Instead of limiting holders of their credit cards to a small collection of prizes, credit unions can now open those rewards to the world.
Gavin Michael, a veteran banking executive formerly with Citigroup (NYSE:C) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), is now the CEO of Bakkt. The president is Adam White, who lists himself as the fifth employee at Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN), where he was vice president and general manager.
With all its pieces in place, Bakkt now hopes to go from 100,000 to 32 million users in the next five years. Michael expects that to grow organically, as consumers learn they can spend and trade off their unused loyalty assets.
For companies offering rewards, Bakkt makes these rewards fungible, at whatever value they wish to assign. Supporting Bakkt can be as simple as plugging in an application program interface (API) to an existing rewards program and assigning values. Bakkt said it had already traded 1 billion points or miles as of September 21.
The Bottom Line on BKKT Stock
I’ll give you a rating on BKKT stock.
It’s a speculative buy.
Unlike most stock flippers, I’m less interested in the cryptocurrency angle than in the miles and loyalty points. These have always been siloed, thus unused. They can now reach the broader market.
There is a risk once Bakkt scales, in that program managers will assign values. Customers told their points are worth a sandwich could find they’re barely worth a crumb. Loyalty programs could be overwhelmed by consumers speculating on points. A market made up of things that were previously worthless could be open to manipulation.
But those are problems for another day. I trust the payment industry to figure this out as they go along. For myself, I’m not going to take rewards and miles for granted again. I might use my coffee habit to speculate on Bitcoin.
On the date of publication, Dana Blankenhorn held no positions in companies mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a financial and technology journalist since 1978. Just in time for Halloween he has a collection of Covid-19 stories at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @danablankenhorn. He writes a Substack newsletter, Facing the Future, which covers technology, markets and politics.