One of the first cryptocurrency wallet providers, aptly entitled Blockchain, is getting into the exchange business. The company hopes to offer “lightning-fast” trades through its The PIT exchange, which is being put together by a group of former heavyweights that were involved in operations at the New York Stock Exchange, Google, Goldman Sachs and TD Ameritrade. If the platform is successful, it is ready to take on – and dominate – exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance.
The PIT will use a matching engine called Mercury, according to Blockchain CEO Peter Smith. That engine is capable of executing buy and sell orders in just “40 to 50 microseconds,” which is an “order of magnitude faster than other market players.”
Blockchain has been around for about eight years, first offering a blockchain block explorer and then moving into the crypto wallet game. It asserts that it accounts for around 25% of all daily activity on Bitcoin Core’s (BTC) network, and expects the new exchange to increase both awareness and adoption of digital currencies.
The former head of active trading at TD Ameritrade and now head of trading products for Blockchain, Nicole Sherrod, recently participated in an interview with CNBC about the new exchange. She told the news outlet, “There’s a huge audience of people who have not yet placed their first bitcoin trade. In volatile markets in particular, speed is of utmost importance. I would not feel comfortable delivering a platform to retail investors that puts them in a position where they couldn’t get in and out of a trade with lightning-fast speed.”
The FIT is expected to be made available to crypto enthusiasts and novice traders in over 200 countries. It will begin by offering 26 trading pairs and will allow users to link their bank accounts directly with Blockchain to use US dollars, euros or British pounds to facilitate trades. Blockchain asserts that it already has 40 million users, which is a large pool of customers with which to start.
The platform has already found support from several deep-pocketed investors. It has raised $70 million from people such as Sir Richard Branson, Spotify investor Lakestar and Alphabet venture arm GV.
The launch comes as Coinbase is seeing an exodus of staffers from the engineering ranks. Tim Wagner, who served as the company’s VP of Engineering, has left after just over a year, and his departure followed that of several others in the engineering department. Both Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Balaji Srinivasan and Chief Operating Officer Asiff Hirji left in May of this year. Two days ago, then-Senior Director of Engineering Namrata Ganatra said she was leaving to become the CTO at Lambda School.
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