JP Morgan, the investment bank giant led by Jamie Dimon, has recently announced that it will launch its own cryptocurrency. The coin is known as JPM Coin and will be used to settle payments in the bank’s wholesale payments business. Wholesale payments move more than $6 trillion each day. The coin will in use within months, according to the bank.
JP Morgan sees a regulated cryptocurrency as a method to reduce risk and enable faster transfers for clients, although it has frequently criticized public cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
The token could potentially replace wire transfers and reduce settlement times to mere moments instead of days. Proponents of Bitcoin recognize that the flagship cryptocurrency offers the same benefits to its users. However, JPM Coin could offer an added benefit of speeding up the settlement for securities issuance.
The bank posted a Q&A on its website in response to the announcement.
“We have always believed in the potential of blockchain technology, and we are supportive of cryptocurrencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated,” the bank said in a statement. “As a globally regulated bank, we believe we have a unique opportunity to develop the capability in a responsible way with the oversight of our regulators. Ultimately, we believe that JPM Coin can yield significant benefits for blockchain applications by reducing clients’ counterparty and settlement risk, decreasing capital requirements and enabling instant value transfer.”
The answer appears to acknowledge the benefits that cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based money offer but suggests these benefits are only tangible when the cryptocurrency is properly controlled and regulated. This is in direct opposition to the stance taken by many cryptocurrency experts, who would suggest that cryptocurrencies only have meaningful benefits if they lack a central authority. However, it represents another step closer to actual cryptocurrencies by the bank, which has historically only acknowledged blockchain technology and not cryptocurrencies.
JPM Coin will be issued on top of Quorum, the JP Morgan developed version of Ethereum. Quorum is a permissioned blockchain, unlike Ethereum which is a public blockchain. This means that all of the nodes in the network are run by the bank or other trusted parties. The company said that the coin will eventually be extended to other platforms but did not state which platforms or how this would take place. It also stated that while JPM Coin is currently a token which is redeemable 1:1 with the US dollar, like many stablecoins (Tether, TUSD, etc.), it will not be the only fiat currency JP Morgan tackles in this way.
Don’t expect to start using JPM Coin though, the bank said that the coin will only be available for institutional clients not for individuals. If you are a large enterprise client, you will soon be able to directly transact using JPM Coins, but if you are an individual your only benefit will come from the cost savings these businesses will receive.
Ultimately, the coin represents another step in the gradual embrace of all things blockchain and cryptocurrency by large financial institutions. While JP Morgan’s official stance is still one that rejects public cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, we have watched these institutions inch closer and closer to all of the innovations that have emerged from the cryptocurrency sector. While we still don’t know whether they will ever embrace the larger cryptocurrency world, it is certainly apparent they are moving closer to it.