Bitcoin wallet and blockchain explorer provider Blockchain just launched its first exchange platform.

Blockchain’s head of retail products, TD Ameritrade alum Nicole Sherrod, told CoinDesk the custodial exchange, called The PIT, can connect to non-custodial Blockchain wallets for nearly instant transfers. Registration opens today, with the ability to trade up to 26 assets rolling out over the next two weeks.

Sherrod said that with nearly 40 million wallets already created – and an exchange matching-engine set up in London’s Equinix LD4 data center – PIT could be posed to attract more liquidity than competitors.
“That’s what market makers are looking for,” Sherrod said. “They want to co-locate [data center servers] with you, they want to directly connect to your matching engine. It’s the way it’s done on Wall Street.”

Indeed, Tom Haller, previously the chief software architect for trading systems at the New York Stock Exchange, contributed to the development of PIT’s matching engine.

Sherrod added the exchange will measure speed in “microseconds,” like traditional asset exchanges. However, an anonymous industry expert was skeptical about whether that theoretical speed with remain constant under real pressures. The source said many infrastructure dependencies are “almost impossible to model out,” so the system will only prove itself when tested by “real-world trading volumes.”

Either way, Blockchain is prioritizing diverse token offerings over margin trading options and the bitcoin software update SegWit, both of which are also on the road map.

“Beyond the 26 [assets] we already know what our phase two asset listings are going to be, as well as phase three,” Sherrod said, declining to name any assets beyond what the wallet already supports.

It remains to be seen how PIT will compete with mainstream exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, which also offer a plethora of crypto assets. Coinbase was also a wallet provider and brokerage, before it became Silicon Valley’s iconic unicorn exchange.

“We’re looking to compete on the overall client experience,” Sherrod said, adding that a new customer support team has become the second-largest division of the company as part of a broader shift to exchange services.

Mainstream exchanges are generally slow to respond to retail users when market activity spikes, so Sherrod argued that beyond speed this is another area where PIT could rival incumbents.

Only time will tell if the new revenue flows Blockchain users generate through transaction fees will justify this expansion into the heavily saturated exchange space, with fierce competition for market makers and heavily regulatory costs.

Blockchain is applying for new licenses in various jurisdictions, Sherrod said, but failed to specify which ones. In the meantime, the exchange won’t operate in any jurisdiction that requires a license, a spokesperson added.

Blockchain CEO Peter Smith image via CoinDesk archives

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