for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up unit tZERO to launch digital currency wallet, exchange app

NEW YORK (Reuters) - subsidiary tZERO said on Thursday it has launched a digital wallet and exchange app for cryptocurrencies.

Investors who want to participate in the global cryptocurrency market will be able to buy, sell and hold these digital assets directly through the tZERO Crypto App on their mobile phone, rather than using more vulnerable, third-party exchanges for custody, tZERO said in a statement.

tZERO is focused on the development and commercialization of blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Blockchain is a shared database that is maintained by a network of computers connected to the internet.

Cryptocurrencies are back in the spotlight amid a scorching price rally this year, led by bitcoin, which has soared more than 270% so far in 2019. After hitting an 18-month high past $13,000, bitcoin last traded up 6.7% at 12,545.02.

“One of my goals since I joined the company is to provide an intuitive user experience on both mobile and the web to trade all digital assets, including cryptocurrencies,” tZERO Chief Executive Officer Saum Noursalehi told Reuters in a phone interview.

“The new app will become the foundation of trading all digital assets for tZERO, whether it’s art, real estate, or private companies,” Noursalehi said.

The initial release of the app will support bitcoin and ethereum purchases.

tZERO said it committed to compliance and safety and will utilize biometric authentication for added security and ease of use.

Investors will also have access to tZERO’s private key recovery system to restore their funds and cryptocurrencies in the event that they lose their private keys or mobile phone.

“As you know, exchanges have gotten hacked before,” Noursalehi said. “What’s different in our case is that the tokens will be stored on your phones with your private keys, which we think is more secure.”

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Cynthia Osterman