WASHINGTON (dpa) – The first US bitcoin exchange was launched Monday by the San Francisco-based company Coinbase after being licensed to operate in individual US states.
Financial regulators in about half of the 50 US states – including New York and California – have approved Coinbase to trade the currency with account holders, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The company acts as a virtual wallet and platform for transactions between consumers and merchants. It raised more than 75 million dollars this month before launching the exchange. Lenders included banks, venture capitalists, and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The bitcoin currency first appeared in 2009 and operates independently of governments and banks. Bitcoins are generated by solving complex mathematical equations on a user’s computer, but can also be purchased on the Internet with established currencies such as the dollar or euro.
With the announcement of the opening of the exchange, the bitcoin reached a 24-hour high of 315 dollars, according to BFXdata. The value of a bitcoin is determined by market supply and demand. Its volatility has ranged from a record high of 1,150 dollars in late 2013, to a recent low in January of 177 dollars.
“With this investment, we are tapping into a new asset class by teaming up with a leading platform that is bringing transparency, security and confidence to an important growth market,” said NYSE President Tom Farley. “We look forward to supporting Coinbase’s growth utilising our global distribution capabilities and market expertise.”
The licensing of a bitcoin exchange comes just two months after the US auctioned bitcoin currency seized when it shut down the drug-dealing website Silk Road, and arrested its founder, Ross Ulbricht, in November 2014.