In a massive mainstream stride for bitcoin, Coinbase, a thriving San Francisco-based bitcoin services startup, today launched the first-ever regulated bitcoin exchange in the U.S.
The popular bitcoin wallet provider and payments processor -- fresh off a record-breaking Series C round with investments from the New York Stock Exchange, VC firms and large banks -- broke the historic news in the The Wall Street Journal late yesterday. The firm then formally announced its eponymous exchange, simply called Coinbase Exchange, this morning in a blog post.
The price of bitcoin neared $300 on the news overnight. It has since mellowed and is now trading around $279, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index.
Following an aggressive five-month campaign, Coinbase’s founders said that they successfully acquired “regulatory approval” from financial regulators in 24 U.S. states, including New York and California. Coinbase is working on winning approval in additional states as well.
“Our goal is to become the world’s largest exchange,” Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong told the Journal. In its blog post announcement, the company said it also aims to “bring stability and trust to the exchange space,” both of which aren’t in ample supply in the public following the fall of Mt. Gox and a rash of recent hacking incidents at several exchanges.
Coinbase’s global reach is already considerably expansive, having recently extending its bitcoin exchange services throughout 19 European countries. On the heels of its massive global expansion, the nearly three-year-old company hired former Senate adviser John G. Collins to drive public policy around the controversial cryptocurrency.
“Coinbase will bring more stability to the bitcoin ecosystem and secure bitcoin trading for U.S.-based customers,” a Coinbase representative told Entrepreneur. She also said SecondMarket, an online platform where private company stock can be traded, is already trading on the exchange and that Coinbase users in the 24 states that support USD wallets can begin trading immediately.
To stoke early adoption, Coinbase is offering customers two months of free trades. After March 30, exchanges will include a 0.25 percent commission fee.
Armstrong and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam beat Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in the race to create the first-ever regulated Bitcoin exchange for American customers. The twin brothers, famous for their falling out with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, only last week revealed their plans to build a Bitcoin exchange fittingly called Gemini.