Cryptosquawk – The latest news from the blockchain world

Bakkt to launch bitcoin futures contracts
Bakkt, the regulated market for cryptocurrencies, has announced last week that it had acquired a New York state trust charter through the State Department of Financial Services, CoinDesk reports. The approval by the financial watchdog paves the way for the Intercontinental Exchange’s young subsidiary to begin offering in the United States its highly-anticipated physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts, from  September 23.
“Bakkt, first unveiled last August, has been working on regulatory approvals to begin offering the product over the past year. It intends to offer two types of contracts: a daily and a monthly contract. Both will be settled at the Bakkt Warehouse, a part of its New York-chartered trust company”, CoinDesk writes.
In a recent blog post, the CEO of the company, Kelly Loefler, wrote, “Our contracts have already received the green light from the CFTC through the self-certification process and user acceptance testing has begun.”
“With approval by the New York State Department of Financial Services to create Bakkt Trust Company, a qualified custodian, the Bakkt Warehouse will custody bitcoin for physically delivered futures,” she said. “This offers customers unprecedented regulatory clarity and security alongside a regulated, globally accessible exchange in a market underserved by institutional-grade infrastructure.”
She also disclosed that “uniquely, Bakkt bitcoin futures contracts will not rely upon unregulated spot markets for settlement prices, thus serving as a transparent price discovery mechanism for the benchmark price for bitcoin. The importance of this differentiator is only amplified by reports of significant manipulative spot market activity, and other concerns such as inconsistent anti-money-laundering policies and weak compliance controls.”
Ethereum ready to introduce six new code changes
Ethereum is ready to launch six different code changes to be activated for ethereum’s next system-wide upgrade, Istanbul, CoinDesk website reports.

“As agreed in prior meetings, the upgraded system will be executed in two parts. The first, which will feature all six code changes, or ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs), is tentatively expected to execute on ethereum mainnet this October.
The second, which is scheduled for mainnet activation sometime in the first quarter of next year, will feature EIPs requiring further testing and deliberation from core developers. Those include a proposed mining algorithm change called “ProgPoW.”
Talking about the two-part structure of the Istanbul upgrade, the core developer of the company, Péter Szilágyi, said that  Istanbul will be splitted into two: “one of them we can actually ship within weeks. [The other contains] two really big EIPs that would be nice to have but require some stuff that cannot be done within the two- or three-week timespan.”

The first part will be the eighth hard fork to be activated on the $22 billion blockchain network. It is expected to boost chain interoperability with privacy coin cash and help secure the broader network against replay attacks, among other efficiency improvements.

Powell admits Bitcoin is “an alternative to gold”
Bitcoin is consolidating its status as a store of value, one of the main function of money. Cryptolovers have always hoped for this, but now a confirmation comes by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell himself, who, in a recent audition held at the U.S. Senate banking committee, admitted that investors are using the cryptocurrency “as an alternative to gold.”

“It’s a store of value, a speculative store of value, like gold,” Powell declared, providing further support to the position that Bitcoin’s relative lack of correlation with other asset classes makes it a safe haven. But assuming that this theory is largely true, it needs to be asked whether other cryptocurrencies are now superior as means of payment.
Notwithstanding other cryptos are able to make more transactions per second and are often cheaper to use, Bitcoin’s function as a store of value makes it more suitable to gain the role of a means of payment. Moreover, its decentralized network is still bigger and safer than others. Still, new comers such as Libra might challenge Bitcoin’s potential dominance.