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Crypto firm Coinbase soars to $100 billion

Coinbase has made a rousing debut on Wall Street, with shares of the digital currency exchange rising so high that the company briefly had a market value over $US100 billion ($A130 billion).

Coinbase Global Inc's initial public offering happened with cryptocurrency chatter seemingly everywhere.

Digital currencies are being incorporated into business plans and accepted for payment by major corporations like Tesla, PayPal and Visa.

The San Francisco-based company's listing on a public stock exchange is seen by some as an inflection point for digital currencies, as Coinbase's fortunes are closely tied to Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin's price topped $US64,000 ($A83,267) on Wednesday, up from $US29,000 at the start of the year.

Coinbase said recently that first-quarter revenue should total around $US1.8 billion ($A2.3 billion), exceeding its revenue for all of 2020.

Shares of Coinbase are listed on the Nasdaq and closed at $US328.28, up 31% from the $US250 reference price set by Nasdaq ahead of the first trade. That puts Coinbase's market value at $US85.78 billion ($A111.60 billion).

That market value makes Coinbase one of the biggest publicly traded US companies - just 93 companies in the S&P 500 index have a higher market value.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase became popular among cryptocurrency fans by providing them with an easier way to exchange shares of Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Unlike many newly public companies Coinbase is profitable - the company estimates it had net income of between $730 million and $800 million in the first quarter.

Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note Wednesday that "Coinbase is a foundational piece of the crypto ecosystem and is a barometer for the growing mainstream adoption of Bitcoin and crypto for the coming years."

Still, even as more companies warm up to digital currencies, there are many doubters. Until recently the major financial institutions avoided cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin is still viewed more as a store of value that as a method of payment.

Even as Coinbase made its trading debut, IS Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell described cryptocurrencies as "vehicles for speculation" in comments to the Economic Club of Washington.

"No one is using them for payments, for example, like the dollar."

© AP 2021