Bitcoin is done with its 'tumultuous teen' years

Today, bitcoin grew up: Bitcoin wallet service Coinbase launched the first U.S.-licensed bitcoin exchange…and it's backed by the granddaddy of exchanges, the NYSE.

While 2014 may be remembered as the tumultuous teenage phase — with the implosion of Mt. Gox, multiple exchanges hacks and an outright price crash — 2015 marks bitcoin's ascendance into adulthood. This announcement will mark the emergence of a new asset class; one that is uncorrelated to other financial markets and will be similar to investing in the Internet in 1994.

The Wild West reputation of digital currencies will quickly be forgotten as institutional investors enter the space.

Coinbase Bitcoin
Source: Coinbase

Markets have the unique ability to make even the smartest people in the room look silly. It was barely a month ago that the Guardian newspaper wrote this: "Bitcoin halved in value over 2014. That's a pretty bad investment, and could spell doom for the currency."

Read MoreBitcoin gets first regulated US exchange

To be fair, at the time, the price of bitcoin had crashed and sentiment was at an all-time low, but the Guardian made the classic investment error of confusing perception with reality. When I first read the article, I was reminded of the BusinessWeek cover in August 1979 that declared "The Death of Equities." That was right before the stock market entered the greatest bull market of a generation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 882 that year and within 20 years had climbed above 11,000. For mathematically challenged, that is a 1200-percent return. What a way to die!

So, what's next for digital FX?

The launch of a regulated U.S.-based exchange opens the door for bitcoin and digital currencies to fulfill their destiny. In my view, this destiny includes becoming a new asset class for investors. Digital currencies need not be limited to a single blockchain. In fact, multiple digital currencies would add to the decentralized appeal. As the institutional investment community becomes acquainted with digital currencies, they will begin to see the multiple use cases for these new assets. Moreover, these new assets will be uncorrelated with more traditional investments, which will enhance the diversification of investment portfolios.

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Some of these use cases have been well documented, including solving micro-payment problems within the music industry and serving the under-banked. A regulated U.S.-based exchange will encourage more investment dollars to enter the space and will lead the discovery and launch of bitcoin's first 'killer app." That is to say, the app that allows everyone to finally see the promise of this technology. There are well over 400 digital currencies in existence with a market cap of $4.9 billion …yes, billion with a "B." Each of these currencies should be thought of as its own app. Larger cap currencies like Ripple and Stellar are taking aim at the international payment systems, while (currently) smaller cap currencies like Digibyte have been developed to tackle micro-payments. The investment opportunity lies in the ability to buy into the "app" or currency before widespread acceptance.

In 1994, few predicted that the Internet would enable live video streaming on a handheld computer that doubled as a phone — but that's exactly what we have. The arrival of institutional investors in digital currencies is a big bang event. If you have doubted the viability of digital currencies, today may be a good day to re-evaluate this emerging asset class.

Read MoreWill 2015 be bitcoin's year?

Brian Kelly is founder and managing member of Brian Kelly Capital LLC, a global macro investment firm catering to high net worth individuals, family offices and institutions. He is also the creator of the BKCM Indexes, benchmarks for multi-asset money managers. He's also the author of the upcoming book, "The Bitcoin Big Bang: How Alternative Currencies Are About to Change the World." Kelly, a CNBC contributor, often appears on "Fast Money." Follow him on Twitter @BKBrianKelly.