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Coinbase Leads Charge In Bitcoin’s Consumerization

Because why do anything other than try out hot technologies on Memorial Day, I just bought some Bitcoin. I might finally play Dots and maybe 3D-print an ear later this afternoon.

I would not have bought my .1 ($13.17) in Bitcoin if it weren’t for a startup called Coinbase, which is “one of the places that looked less sketchy,” according to TechCrunch editor and Bitcoin bug John Biggs. “It’s one of the ones I would tell my Mom to use,” Biggs insisted. Indeed, if your mom knows how to link a bank account to a Fidelity or Charles Schwab account and buy mutual funds, buying Bitcoin through Coinbase is a similar deal. Just input her account and routing number, verify a couple of small transactions and your mom will be one step closer to Silk Road.

As a Bitcoin wallet, an exchange and a merchant payment-processing system, Coinbase is one of the most, if not the most, “legit,” user-friendly Bitcoin startups out there, a position it solidified by raising $5 million from Twitter investor Fred Wilson among others — the largest investment to date in a Bitcoin startup. It took Wilson over two years to find a Bitcoin startup that had what it took: a solid team, product and plan. And Coinbase’s founders have a pretty legit pedigree — with Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam having spent time at Airbnb and Goldman Sachs, respectively.

In addition to investor interest, the startup is beginning to see some traction. In January, it launched its Bitcoin-to-US-dollars exchange feature, and saw $1 million converted in and out of Bitcoin. In February it saw $2.5 million, and this April the startup saw $15 million — figures inevitably increasing with the rise in the Bitcoin exchange rate. Armstrong holds that the company, which takes a 1 percent transaction fee from all conversions, is growing 15 percent week-over-week in terms of transaction volume, revenue and users signing up. “Coinbase is becoming the most trustworthy consumer brand in Bitcoin,” inv...

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