Coinbase has launched America's first regulated bitcoin exchange, helping to push the crypto currency's price past the $280 mark.
The new exchange is open to Coinbase users in 24 US states and territories from today and will be trading fee-free until 30 March, when a maker-taker model will be introduced.
In a blog post, the company says its new venture is designed to bring stability and trust to the bitcoin ecosystem, adding that major players such as Trading Division of SecondMarket are already using the platform.
Bitcoin had a torrid 2014, rocked by scandals such as the MT. Gox collapse, and ended the year as the worst performing investment measured against all other asset classes before seeing its value drop below $200 earlier this month.
However, the cryptocurrency received a boost last week when major financial institutions such as the New York Stock Exchange, USAA and BBVA signalled their belief in it by joining a $75 million funding round for Coinbase.
And today's news of a well-backed regulated exchange has seen bitcoin's price rise sharply, hitting $280, although this is still well down on the $1000-plus reached at the end of 2013.