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British bitcoin market sent extraordinary signals ahead of the Brexit vote

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

The price of the digital currency bitcoin rose 6.5% in the 24 hours directly after Britain voted to leave the European Union. And while the coin had already been on a ride over the two weeks before the vote (it's up 25% in the last month), for a number of factors besides the Brexit, it is likely that uncertainty over the situation stoked interest in the cryptocurrency, which is seen as an investment asset uncorrelated to the broader economy.

Bitcoin price over the past month from Winkdex, including Coinbase data. Note the spike after the Brexit vote, but also the much larger spike well before the vote.

New data from Coinbase, which offers the leading bitcoin wallet and a popular bitcoin exchange, proves that the prospect of Brexit had an impact on bitcoin even before the referendum vote.

In the week leading up to the vote (June 13-20), Coinbase saw a 55% increase in new account sign-ups from Great Britain, and a 350% increase in bitcoin purchases from UK customers.

On the day of the Brexit vote, Coinbase saw an 86% increase in Great Britain signups.

It's one of the largest spikes in activity Coinbase has ever seen from one region in one week.

The British bitcoin bump is a reminder, a Coinbase spokesperson says, that bitcoin "has long been a hedge against turmoil in Greece, capital controls in China, and macro-economic issues." Indeed, many compare the coin to gold as an investment vehicle. The current market cap of all bitcoins is $10.1 billion.

Coinbase, founded in 2012, has 4 million users and is now operable in 32 countries. It launched in the UK just one year ago, giving Brits the ability to buy bitcoin using pounds, euros or dollars. In the US, it recently added the ability for customers to buy bitcoin instantly using a debit card, making it even easier to buy up coin.

Expect the fervor around Brexit to show a continued impact on the price of bitcoin.

For a conversation with Coinbase cofounder Fred Ehrsam, watch the above video.

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Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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