Coinbase, one of the leading Bitcoin exchanges in the United States, announced in a blog post Tuesday that it would be rebranding itself as GDAX: the Global Digital Asset eXchange and would be adding ether (ETH) trading to complement its Bitcoin (BTC) exchange products. Now, users will be able to buy and sell Ether, the digital currency associated with the Ethereum blockchain against U.S. dollars and Bitcoin. (See also: Is Ethereum More Important Than Bitcoin?)

Coinbase co-founder sees Ethereum potential

In a post on Medium, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam declares Ethereum as the digital currency of the future, with the potential to blow past Bitcoin, which to date has grown quite rapidly, but of late has found itself mired in conflict over how to scale the system. Furthermore, Ethereum is a platform built specifically to handle smart contracts via its decentralized virtual machine. Such smart contracts have been put to use in the creation of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), with the most recent project "The DAO" raising close to $150 million in a token sale, making it the most successful crowdfunding venture ever to date. Ehrsam does not state that Bitcoin is doomed for failure, rather he supports both:

"To be clear, I don’t think this needs to be a contest between Bitcoin vs. Ethereum and Coinbase plans to strongly support both."

(For more, see: Why the Ethereum DAO is Revolutionary)

The rise of Ethereum's value

The value of ether, the cryptocurrency on the Ethereum blockchain (akin to bitcoin being the digital currency on the Bitcoin blockchain) has risen substantially since its inception in 2014 and its debut as a digital token in 2015. The price of one ether has risen to around $12.50, and the market cap of all ether is valued at just over $1 billion at today's prices.

While Coinbase is not the first online exchange to list ether (some others include: btc-e, kraken, poloniex, and Bitfinex), it is one of the most trusted Bitcoin exchanges and wallet services, being the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange in the United States,

Source: Coinmarketcap.com

The Bottom Line

Coinbase, one of the largest and most influential Bitcoin exchanges and wallet services in the United States has announced that it will begin trading ether, the digital currency associated with the Ethereum blockchain as it sees the value of the smart contract-focused blockchain. Coinbase will still continue to actively support Bitcoin, but with its new professional GDAX exchange, it will increasingly support ether as well. 1 ETH currently trades for around USD $12.00.

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