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Bitcoin launched on Stockholm exchange

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Buttons carrying the Bitcoin logo. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Jordans
07:53 CEST+02:00
The world's first Bitcoin-based security on a regulated exchange has been launched in Sweden. The digital currency began trading on the Stockholm market on Monday.

Finansinspektionen, Sweden's financial watchdog, authorized Stockholm-based Bitcoin tracker XBT Provider last month to launch the digital currency on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange.

Alexander Marsh, Chief Executive Officer of XBT Provider, told Bloomberg at the time: “We are proud to offer the world's first 'Bitcoin tracker' to be traded on a regulated exchange. By enabling this easy and secure way to invest in Bitcoin we hope to have eliminated the boundaries that earlier prevented individuals and companies from being able to actively invest in what we believe to be the future of money.”

Bitcoin is a digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open source software in 2009 by developer Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency uses cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the first Bitcoin certificate would launch in tech-savvy Sweden, which saw one politician run for office last year using only digital currency campaign funds.

Behind the venture is Swedish firm KnC Miner AB. The start-up, which had racked up $75 million in turnover in around eight months after its launch in June 2013, opened a new data hub in northern Sweden last year, just a stone's throw from Facebook's European data centre.

KnC Miner is a provider of hardware used in the mining of the digital currency Bitcoin, and the company boasts customers in 120 countries. 

Bitcoin can be bought and sold just as a conventional currency. In autumn 2013 its value rose to over 1,000 dollars. The hype has calmed down somewhat since then, and on Sunday one Bitcoin was worth 1,949.94 Swedish kronor ($237.47).

But while many hail it as a new financial freedom movement for the digital generation, others have warned of risks.

“Young guys will probably buy it. Bitcoin stands for a new digital world, free from the banking system. It's almost somewhat political,” savings analyst Claes Hemberg of the Avanza bank told Swedish news wire TT on Monday.

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"You shouldn't put more money towards Bitcoin than you would bet on a horse race. You can win, but also lose everything," he warned.

Despite initial scepticism, the financial industry has taken baby steps towards the digital market this year. In January, the New York Stock Exchange made a minority investment in Bitcoin platform Coinbase. And in April UBS announced plans to create a London-based research lab for examining Blockchain, the underlying technology for digital currencies.

But Hemberg added: "I get worried when people think that Bitcoin has a determined value. People have so far agreed that they are worth this or that much, but that's just like the value of a collectors' item. It's an agreement between buyer and seller."

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