NYSE Adds Bitcoin To Tracker

The New York Stock Exchange is diving deeper into the world of Bitcoin with the introduction of a bitcoin pricing index.

The index, which will be made available through NYSE's Global Index Feed and free on its website for a limited time, is intended to serve as a definitive benchmark for valuing the currency — in the same way that the LIBOR index is used to measure global interest rates.

"We are now going to use our name, reputation and global index provider stature to provide bitcoin values that the rest of the market can look to," says Tom Farley, who serves as president of NYSE, the venerable financial institution that has come to symbolize Wall Street and capitalism more broadly.

It's a feature with a backstory that stretches back years. Around the time that the price of bitcoin first began its remarkable rise in late 2012 and early 2013, Farley was approached by two men from Europe who pitched their plans to launch a bitcoin exchange. Farley had heard generally about bitcoin before, but he decided to devote a weekend to heavily researching the new digital currency.

"I left at the end of that weekend thinking this thing might have legs," Farley recalls. "We need to keep an eye on this stuff."

That weekend helped kickstart Farley's quiet push to find the 223-year-old stock exchange an early entry point into the still controversial and uncertain world of bitcoin. At the beginning of this year, NYSE raised more than a few eyebrows by investing in Coinbase, a popular bitcoin wallet. The new bitcoin pricing index marks its first in-house product.

Other outfits, including the Bloomberg terminal and Google, track the price of bitcoin relative to other currencies, but Farley insists NYSE has the potential to create the gold standard for bitcoin values (not to mix asset classes).

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