The chief information officer of JP Morgan, Lori Beer, has said that blockchain will “replace existing technology”, according to the Argentinian website Cripto247 at a recent press conference in Buenos Aires.
The comment reaffirms a change of tack for one of the world’s oldest financial companies, whose CEO, Jamie Dimon, last year said bitcoin was a “fraud”, threatening to fire any employee “stupid” enough to invest in it.
Since then, Dimon has conceded that “blockchain is real”, particularly in regard to improving the efficiency of global payments, while the launch of Quorum earlier this year, an Ethereum-based smart contract platform, represented the group’s first major project with the technology.
According to Beer, alongside artificial intelligence and APIs, blockchain now stands as one of JP Morgan’s three main focuses for this year.
“We are currently following many paths. We invented a blockchain with an open code based on Ethereum. Actual blockchain technology has not yet resolved issues with privacy and scalability that we needed,” Beer told Cripto247, adding that the bank is connected to Hyperledger and Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
While a lot of companies’ talk about blockchain tech is often mere bluster – a report by PwC yesterday revealed that 85% of businesses are involved with the technology because they don’t want to be “left behind” – Beer was keen to add that JP Morgan’s intentions are substantial.
“The application of this technology in business is more important to us than the technology itself. We are looking not only for cost reduction but also for opportunities to develop new products,” she said.
That includes simplifying payment processing and the storage of customer information, while the bank will also look at its potential to strengthen ‘Know Your Customer’ and anti-money-laundering rules when sending money between banks.
With JP Morgan set to “continue to evaluate the use of blockchain”, Beer added that “we will see a greater and wider use of blockchain in a few years”, while at present, the aim is to use the technology where there is no existing solution.
On whether the company has evolved its stance on cryptocurrencies, Beer said that while they have specialists evaluating what’s happening, they will only support regulated activity.