July 30 (Reuters) - Blockchain, one of the world's largest digital currency wallet companies, announced on Tuesday the launch of a cryptocurrency exchange called The PIT that aims to execute trades in microseconds for retail and institutional investors.
After extensive research and development over the span of a year, Blockchain said its "Mercury" matching engine delivers speeds a quantum faster than any other crypto exchange.
A stealth team inside the company composed of veterans from the New York Stock Exchange, TD Ameritrade, Google, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Interactive Brokers and Revolut built The PIT with the goal of executing trades at high speeds, Blockchain said in a statement.
"What happens at these exchanges when there's a volatility spike, the matching engines get overwhelmed and they just shut down and people can't even trade," Nicole Sherrod, head of trading products at Blockhain told Reuters in a phone interview.
"Our clients can do trades in microseconds in a category where other exchanges are doing them in milliseconds," she added.
Crytocurrencies are back in the spotlight in the midst of a steep price rally and high volatility this year, led by bitcoin, which has soared nearly 160% so far in 2019. After hitting an 18-month high just shy of $14,000 in late June, bitcoin has dropped nearly 30% and last traded at $9,528.
On Tuesday, Sherrod said customers will be able to open accounts at The PIT, with the exchange initially launching the trading of the bitcoin/U.S. dollar pair on Aug. 6.
The exchange is available to users in more than 200 countries, and will begin with 26 trading pairs and a global banking network to facilitate deposits, withdrawals, and fiat-to-crypto trading in U.S. dollar, euro, and sterling. Initial assets include bitcoin, ether, litecoin, tether, and PAX tokens.
Tom Haller, previously the chief software architect for trading systems at the New York Stock Exchange, led the development of the exchange's matching engine, Blockchain said.
"The current crypto exchange market is outdated, broken, and skewed against users. We got tired of waiting for a new entrant to deliver the performance today's traders demand," said Peter Smith, Blockchain co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement.
Launched in 2011 as a cryptocurrency wallet and headquartered in London, Blockchain has raised $70 million from investors including Google Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Virgin, Lakestar, and the Digital Currency Group. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; editing by Diane Craft)