Bitcoin exchange and wallet service Coinbase is adding support for ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network.
The addition of Ethereum comes amid rising interest in ether among digital currency traders and the technology platform itself among financial institutions and other enterprises worldwide. Trading will begin on 24th May.
Further, Coinbase's exchange service will be rebranded with a new name and logo, according to vice president of business development Adam White.
White told CoinDesk:
"In addition to better highlighting the exchange that Coinbase is becoming we're rebranding as GDAX, which stands for Global Digital Asset Exchange."
Initially, traders on Coinbase's exchange platform will be able to buy and sell ethers. Later this summer, the company will add support for the digital currency to all Coinbase users.
Coinbase's ether integration was, in some ways, largely expected given recent trends in the exchange space.
Since San Francisco-based exchange Kraken announced last August that it would become the first major venture-backed business to offer ether trading pairs, a variety of exchanges worldwide have followed suit in the past few months. More recently, Gemini added ether trading pairs to its exchange.
According to White, members of the Coinbase team have long stayed apprised of development on Ethereum, largely through conversations with the network's creator, Vitalik Buterin, as well as media reports.
Last year, employees took part in multiple Ethereum meetups as part of their research into the digital currency, said White. But it wasn't until Microsoft Azure entered the fray that the startup begin to look more closely, said White.
The result: Coinbase employees began building services on top of Ethereum, including wallets. At the same time, explained White, the company's customer base voiced "unprecedented" support for the digital currency through email and social media, ultimately spurring this week's announcement.
"We've always focused on bitcoin because that's been the most popular but as other currencies come on line we always evaluate them," said White. "When ether came online it was a no-brainer."
Interest in other assets
White also suggested that the company was paying close attention to The DAO, a decentralized organization built on top of Ethereum that acts as a funding vehicle for related projects.
Specifically, Coinbase employees are keeping a close eye on the tokens associated with The DAO, which are used as both a voting mechanism as well as a method of generating rewards for stakeholders.
"I'd be remiss to say we're not investigating that," said White. "But there are a number of legal and business questions we're trying to answer."
"That doesn't mean we're going to add 15 new currencies over the coming weeks, but we're paying attention."
Image via Coinbase
Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.