Investors rushed to open new accounts for buying and selling bitcoin after news that the world’s largest futures exchange plans to launch futures for the digital currency this year.
About 100,000 new users joined Coinbase a day after the Tuesday announcement, according to public data compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund.
Coinbase is the largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S. and one of the most popular ways to buy and sell digital currencies bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin. The company now has 11.9 million users, according to its website.
In another step toward bitcoin’s development as a more established asset class, CME announced Tuesday that it plans to launch bitcoin futures by the end of the year. Once the futures launch, many large investors restricted from directly purchasing bitcoin will be able to buy into the digital currency trend.
Bitcoin surged to records after the CME news and hit an all-time high of $7,454.04 on Friday, according to CoinDesk.
The digital currency has come a long way from being the focus of a small group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and online marketplaces for illegal goods. An entire industry has now emerged with businesses that “mine” bitcoin, sell digital mining equipment and offer bitcoin trading services.
Coinbase itself was founded in 2012 and has raised a total of $217 million from investors including USAA, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, according to CrunchBase. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based start-up reported a flash crash in ethereum and website outages due to high traffic.