JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has weighed in on Bitcoin again, expressing cautious optimism over blockchain technology and offering a glimpse into the bank’s plans for it.
He made the comments as part of a 40-minute Q&A session at the Barclays Global Financial Services Conference in New York, as reported by American Banker. In it, he sought to dispel reports that the bank is looking to exit its custody and cash management businesses, seeking to reassure attendees over the bank’s competitive position.
Regarding Bitcoin, he reiterated his previously stated position that it cannot succeed as a currency, but expressed intrigue over how blockchain technology, which powers Bitcoin, can shape the future of our financial system. Such a philosophy is emerging as the mainstream line of thought among financial institutions and government.
However, he sounded a cautionary note, pointing out that while such a system may be more efficient, the bank needs to ensure that it is secure.
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He referred to JPMorgan’s recent foray into the space, joining a growing list of banks to do so. “We have a study group on this whole thing.… And I think most of the banks do at this point.”
Significantly, JPMorgan has also met with Digital Asset Holdings CEO Blythe Masters, who joined the startup earlier this year. Masters previously headed JPMorgan’s investment bank as well as its commodities unit, and was strongly supported by Dimon during her tenure. The bank has also met with “a bunch of these other blockchain companies.”
Dimon previously commented that bitcoin as a currency is “a terrible store of value”. On the potential threat it poses to banks, he said in 2013 that “Bitcoin developers are going to try and eat our lunch and that’s fine,” adding that “that’s called competition and we will be competing.”
Earlier this year, he acknowledged the threat posed by Bitcoin and other emerging technologies to the traditional banking model. During a conference call with shareholders, he mentioned that the bank is examining its competitors in “excruciating detail”.