Editor's take: It's a big day in the cryptocurrency world as Coinbase, the American cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2012, is set to make its Wall Street debut. It could very well be a watershed moment that further validates crypto as a legitimate fiat alternative. Should things not go according to plan, it's conversely plausible that much of the momentum crypto has gained in the near-term goes right out the window.

Nasdaq set a reference price of $250 per share on Tuesday, resulting in a projected valuation of $49.8 billion for Coinbase. Because this is a direct listing and not a traditional initial public offering, however, the $250 figure isn't an offering price but rather, more of a watermark to start trading at.

Still, as Coindesk highlights, it could take a bit for the action to get going.

"Such offerings are unusual, and in the past market makers have needed hours to determine the appropriate opening price," said Kevin Reynolds. Indeed, when Slack went public via direct listing back in June of 2019, it took more than two hours to start trading. We could see a similar situation play out here.

Crypto investors have responded positively in the lead-up to the listing, with both Bitcoin and Ethereum setting new record prices. Bitcoin in early morning trading on Wednesday hit a high of $64,747.51 and Ethereum peaked at $2,392.09. Other popular coins like Litecoin have surged over the past week but haven't quite eclipsed their all-time high from late 2017.

Coinbase shares will trade under the ticker symbol "COIN."

Images courtesy viewimage, Ralf Liebhold