JP Morgan, the fifth-largest bank in the world by assets, has had a long history of sparring with Bitcoin, highlighted by some under-informed comments CEO Jamie Dimon made about Bitcoin for CNBC in January 2014. Over time, the US-based bank has seemed to have better educated themselves — but not before the flight of Blythe Masters, their pro-blockchain executive.
Masters, the formal head of Global Commodities until 2014 and inventor of the Credit Default Swap investment vehicle, is easily the highest-profile woman in the Bitcoin space today. After leaving JP Morgan, she has helmed the blockchain-focused startup Digital Asset Holdings, which has acquired two blockchain technology startups already: Hyperledger and Bits of Proof. Masters has also joined the board at the Digital Chamber of Commerce.
They say imitation is the purest form of flattery, so perhaps companies like JP Morgan — which unsuccessfully filed patent applications on its own version of a Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency — should be considered some of Bitcoin’s biggest fans.
In an April shareholders brief, CEO Dimon mentioned Bitcoin by name after exclaiming that “Silicon Valley is coming,” and then assured his shareholders that JP Morgan “analyzes all of their competitors in excruciating detail.”
However, it didn’t take long to go from “analyzing competitors” to something more like ‘singing their praises.’
This week, JP Morgan joined in with eight other major banks to form a collaborative joint working group of blockchain-using banks led by Wall Street-based R3 CEV. The purpose of this group is to use a common blockchain between them for interbank settlements, eventually giving each the ability to trust one another and settle their monetary transfers instantly.
The group plans to collaborate on design, research, and engineering to create “state-of-the-art enterprise-scale shared ledger solutions,” that they can jointly deploy. If all goes well, the group feels that their blockchain can help them achieve new peaks in security, reliability, performance, scalability, and auditing.
Of course, no JP Morgan representative has so far said anything good about Bitcoin itself; the bank is clearly smitten with blockchain technology, though, and now plans to employ it in its core business.
When speaking about the R3 deal and the Blockchain this week, Dimon told American Banker that “we have a study group on this whole thing. I think most of the banks do at this point.”
What do you think about JP Morgan’s relationship with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!
The Bitcoin Bank Acceptance Spotlight is a regular column on Bitcoin.com created to keep track of which banks are saying great things about Bitcoin and the blockchain.