The first cryptocurrency exchange wasn’t Bitstamp, Vircurex, or Btc-e. It was in fact a now defunct platform called Bitcoinmarket.com. The site was proposed on the Bitcointalk forum (where else?) by “dwdollar” on Jan. 15, 2010. “Hi everyone. I’m in the process of building an exchange,” he wrote. “I have big plans for it, but I still have a lot of work to do. It will be a real market where people will be able to buy and sell Bitcoins with each other.” He elaborated:
Dwdollar’s quest was a much-needed one, for at the time there was little common consensus on how much a bitcoin was worth. Most price charts only go back as far as summer 2010, at which point 1 BTC was trading for around $0.05, though when Bitcoinmarket.com launched in March of that year, a single bitcoin was priced at around $0.003 – that’s 333 BTC to the dollar.
On March 17, 2010, Bitcoinmarket.com went live. Like all platforms that sprung up in those early days, the exchange was rickety, and holes were often patched following feedback from Bitcointalk forum members. The site accepted Paypal initially as its means of exchanging BTC for fiat. This system worked for a while, but as Bitcoin grew, so did the number of scammers. Following a string of fraudulent trades, Paypal was removed from the exchange on June 4, 2011.
On the same day, a forum user captured the giddiness that was starting to encircle the Bitcoin community, writing: “That market is going nuts. Yesterday, I saw a guy selling BTC on ebay for $20. Thought he wouldn’t sell any right away. Sold all 30 to 4 diff bidders in 12 hours. Now this morning I see bitcoinmarket.com at $23.99! I’m usually a buy and hold kinda guy, but this rapid growth is freaking me out. I only own 75 BTC, but feel like the rich guy.”