JPMorgan Chase on Thursday announced a move to speed up the settlement of business-to-business transactions by using digital coins.
The largest U.S. bank by assets said its JPM Coin is designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology. The coins will be redeemable for the equivalent amount in U.S. dollars.
JPMorgan’s wholesale payments business moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day for corporations but those movements have traditionally used wire transfers that can take a day to complete.
“JPMorgan is preparing for a future in which parts of the essential underpinning of global capitalism, from cross-border payments to corporate debt issuance, move to the blockchain,” CNBC said.
The bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, has described bitcoin as a “fraud” and compared cryptocurrencies to a famous bubble in the tulip market from the 17th century. But Umar Farooq, head of JPMorgan’s blockchain project, said the bank has “always believed in the potential of blockchain technology.”
“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,” he said in a news release.
Last year, JPMorgan and two other lenders banned the purchase of bitcoins by credit card customers, while Goldman Sachs reportedly shelved plans to create a bitcoin trading desk.
The JPM Coin is currently a prototype that will be tested with a small number of the bank’s institutional clients, with plans to expand the pilot program later this year. JPMorgan’s corporate payments clients include 80% of Fortune 500 companies.
“Even if this was limited to JPM clients at the institutional level, it shouldn’t hold us back,” Farooq said.
According to The Next Web, the coins are not really a cryptocurrency but would compete with other redeemable bank tokens in the market.
“If you’re a corporation and you think that hip solutions like Ripple Labs’ XRP token, or the plethora of regulated stablecoins out there, aren’t quite centralized enough for you, then JPM Coin might be just what you’re after,” it commented.