Not long after the Winklevoss team announced elaborate plans to build a fully regulated exchange, Coinbase got straight to the point: it is launching today at 9 AM EST.
Its “To the Moon” page had everyone wondering what the venture had in store next; An exchange was not the first guess. But it does make sense. Coinbase now supports USD wallets and has been expanding the list of states where they are licensed for use. It has also been a busy few days for Coinbase, which last week announced a record $75 million funding round. One of the investors was the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), a fitting backer for the latest undertaking.
Coinbase had, until now, offered a bitcoin-buying service, but as a broker than as an exchange service. Its new exchange will be order-book driven and charge a 0.25% fee per trade. This solves another piece of the puzzle: How was Coinbase planning on making money in the future, especially when considering that over $100 million has been invested to date? The company does not charge for its wallet service. Even supported merchants don’t pay fees until they reach a certain sales threshold, and even then the amount is fairly small.
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Thus, the company has first built up a solid foundation consisting of a wallet, vault, merchant and API services, creating a contained ecosystem that has yet to suffer a major security breach. While the trading fees are average for the industry, it will be interesting to watch if traders flock to what is considered one of the most secure platforms.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said that the exchange will be initially available to US customers only, and will expand internationally over time.
Bitcoin prices today have soared to above $300, likely a result of the news. While in theory the development is good for the Bitcoin ecosystem, it does not necessarily increase the value of its currency. In the past, the addition of altcoins such as Litecoin to major exchanges was initially greeted with much euphoria, which eventually fizzled.