The Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange application seen on the screen of an iPhone.
Bitcoin surged to a fresh record high of more than $63,000 on Tuesday, as investors awaited the highly-anticipated stock market debut of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.
The price of bitcoin climbed 5% in the last 24 hours to hit $63,171, according to data from Coin Metrics, before easing slightly to around $62,653. Ether, the second-most valuable digital coin after bitcoin, also set a fresh record, climbing to $2,222.
Coinbase is set to go public on Wednesday through a direct listing that could value the company at as much as $100 billion — more than major trading venue operators like Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange. Crypto investors are hailing the company’s stock market debut as a major milestone for the industry after years of skepticism from Wall Street and regulators.
“This is really good and really important for the industry,” Marcus Swanepoel, CEO and co-founder of London-based cryptocurrency platform Luno, told CNBC. “It’s going to increase the trust and transparency in our industry.”
“There’s still a bit of distrust in the industry and I think having a company of that size be public is going to help a lot of people realize that this is not just an asset class to take seriously but also a business to take seriously.”
Coinbase, founded in 2012, is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States. It’s seen surging revenues this year thanks to a climb in the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The company reported estimated revenues of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2021, a nine-fold increase from the same period a year earlier, while profits grew to between $730 million and $800 million.
Bitcoin has more than doubled in price since the start of this year, as mainstream investors jumped into cryptocurrencies. Tesla recently made a $1.5 billion bet on bitcoin and now accepts the digital currency as a method of payment for its cars. Meanwhile, Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are looking to offer their wealthy clients some exposure to bitcoin.
Bitcoin bulls view the cryptocurrency as a store of value akin to gold that can be used to diversify investment portfolios in times of economic crisis. But skeptical economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Nouriel Roubini are unconvinced, viewing bitcoin as extremely volatile and a vehicle for illegal transactions.