The price of a Bitcoin is trending upwards once again in light of an announcement by US-based processor Coinbase that it will launch the first licensed Bitcoin exchange today.

At the time of writing, 1 BTC has already broken the US$300 barrier, something which was not anticipated to occur for some time. This takes price hikes over the past 24 hours to just under US$55, or 22%. The number of new active Bitcoin addresses has also risen sharply to a new record mark, data shows.

Coinbase announced the news of its latest venture yesterday on twitter and today on their official blog. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, founder Brian Armstrong and others stated the as yet unnamed venture is the result of months of negotiations with legislators which will see the first licensed exchange in the US brought to customers in 24 states. Others may be added subsequently depending on the outcome of further negotiations.

Coinbase Founder Brian Armstrong

The exchange “will offer greater security for individuals and institutions to trade bitcoin,” the Coinbase team stated, “and monitor real-time pricing of the cryptocurrency.”

The benefits of the new status of Coinbase’s exchange are anticipated by the company to bring the attention from the establishment seen by many as key to gaining greater acceptance from the mass populace.

Coinbase’s recent activities are not without controversy, however. Recent changes to its terms of use have seen provisos attached which some have criticized for undermining the essence of decentralization while fuelling the privacy and monitoring practices, which Bitcoin previously was designed to change. News that the company was claiming the right to access users’ credit history, while blocking accounts associated with online gambling use, struck many as a definitive departure from the legitimate ethos of the digital currency movement.

Nonetheless, excitement ahead of the exchange launch is running high throughout the community. The official site is already up and a concerted effort is underway regarding community outreach, it would seem, echoing Armstrong’s statement that “our goal is to become the world’s largest exchange.”

The exchange will at first only be available to US customers in the states to be specified post-launch. The first two months will see fee-free trading, with a flat 0.25% charged thereafter, Armstrong told CoinDesk.

Whatever the community’s reaction to the new frontier with regulators having been breached, today’s price activity, if not subsequently erased, may well lead many to believe that Coinbase’s strategy will yield results for all.

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