Bitcoin wallet operator Coinbase has opened the first regulated US exchange for the alternative currency.

The opening could provide a boost to the cryptocurrency which has been hit hard by concerns about links to illegal activities and the collapse of a major Bitcoin exchange last year.

"With this launch our goal is to bring increased stability to the Bitcoin ecosystem," Coinbase said in a blog post.

Launched in 2009 by a mysterious computer programmer, Bitcoin is a form of e-money that offers a largely anonymous payment system and can be stored either virtually or on a user's hard drive.

Backers say virtual currencies allow for an efficient and anonymous way to store and transfer funds online.

But regulators argue the lack of legal framework governing the currency, the opaque way it is traded and its volatility make it dangerous.

The value of a Bitcoin which soared to over $1,200 in 2013, was at around $285 on Monday.

Coinbase earlier this month raised some $75 million in capital, bringing its total rise to $106 million.