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JPMorgan’s Balancing Act Between Blockchain and Crypto

Multinational investment bank JPMorgan Chase has had a chequered relationship with cryptocurrencies over the years. While it has maintained an apparent apathy toward Bitcoin and the likes, the financial institution has openly embraced blockchain technology and is actively using it in various internal projects.

This has come to the fore in August 2018, as chief information officer Lori Beer made a bold statement in an interview, claiming that blockchain technology ‘will replace’ existing financial systems in the next few years.

Beer’s sentiments come at an interesting time, especially considering JPMorgan’s yin-and-yang attitude towards decentralized ledger technology (DLT).

Blockchain technology underpins the existence of cryptocurrencies, which have multiplied in number and applications since Bitcoin was birthed in 2009. Therefore, it is worth taking a trip down memory lane to understand the juxtaposition between the company’s attitude toward cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

JPMorgan’s love/hate relationship with crypto

As has been the case with most financial institutions, the emergence of cryptocurrencies has been met with a certain element of trepidation. Some have been more accepting than others, but JPMorgan has had one of the more interesting stories to tell.

The company hasn’t been overly opposed to the notion of cryptocurrencies, but its leadership — CEO Jamie Dimon, in particular — has been nothing short of hypercritical over the past few years. As we will delve into, this has caused a contrasting narrative in terms of the company’s projects and exploits in the space when compared with the opinions of Dimon.

Quorum

In November 2016, JPMorgan published a white paper for Quorum, which is a private blockchain platform built on the Ethereum protocol.  

As a founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), JPMorgan’s development of Quorum is aligned with the mandate of the EEA, which aims to bring privacy, scalability and security to the Ethereum blockchain. This is directly aimed at enterprises that want to control the accessibility and use of data through a blockchain system.

Quorum’s blockchain looks to provide data privacy to companies, using the Ethereum network to validate transactions, which was described in the opening paragraph of the white paper:

“Though the design is simple, the solution preserves many of the key attributes of Ethereum, such as ensuring every node on the network participates in and increases the overall security of the entire network while only revealing the details of private transactions to those party to the transaction.”

Quorum uses cryptography to protect sensitive data, only allowing those with the necessary permission to access certain transaction data.

Almost a year-and-a-half later, on April 20, 2018, JPMorgan finally tested the Quorum blockchain with a number of high-profile banks participating.

JPMorgan is even considering divorcing Quorum from the company, in an effort to make the platform more accessible to the markets. A barrier to entry is the fact that market competitors are unlikely to use a platform that is run by a competitor bank.

Topsy-turvy 2018

As cryptocurrencies endured a humbling correction in the months after Bitcoin’s all-time high in December 2017, JPMorgan — among other banks — stopped processing cryptocurrency purchases with its credit cards, citing the volatility of the markets.

By the end of February, the bank delivered its annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The report added cryptocurrencies to its sections on ‘Risk Factors’ and ‘Competition,’ illustrating the disruptive aspects of the space.

The company told the SEC that the emergence of cryptocurrencies would require the bank to spend more money adapting its products to appease clients and customers, with the possibility of the bank eventually losing market share:

“Both financial institutions and their non-banking competitors face the risk that payment processing and other services could be disrupted by technologies, such as cryptocurrencies, that require no intermediation.”

In May 2018, the company announced the creation of the position of a head of crypto assets strategy at the company. The post was immediately filled, with Oliver Harris the man in charge of leading the company’s new cryptocurrency projects. It is understood that Harris’ position would not involve the trading of cryptocurrencies, but rather investigating the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain services that could benefit JPMorgan’s processes.

Around the same time, vice president Daniel Pinto said the company was looking into the Bitcoin space — admitting interest in the futures markets in an interview with CNBC. Pinto went as far as saying they would clear Bitcoin futures if they had to, while also saying that cryptocurrencies faced a number challenges:

“I have no doubt that in one way or another, the technology will play a role. [Regarding Bitcoin], you cannot have something where the business proposition is to be anonymous and to be the currency for unknown activities. That will have a very short life because people will stop believing in it, or the regulators will kill it. I think the concept is valid [and that’s why] you have many central banks looking into. The tokenization of the economy, for me, is real. Cryptocurrencies are real but not in the current form.”

Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has long been a harsh critic of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Dimon’s dissenting attitude dates back to 2015, when he said that Bitcoin would be stopped and that blockchain “is like any other technology.” Furthermore, Dimon made it clear that the bank would use the underlying technology to better its own systems:

“If it is cheaper, effective, works and secure, then we are going to use it. The technology will be used, and it could be used to transport currency — but it will be dollars, not Bitcoins.”

Dimon’s most infamous critique of Bitcoin came in September 2017, when he labelled the cryptocurrency a fraud. The JPMorgan CEO went as far as threatening to fire employees that were offering to trade cryptocurrencies on behalf of their clients.

Dimon’s commentary on the subject ebbed and flowed in the following months, as his own views on the sector were seemingly at odds with the plans of the company. Dimon went as far as saying he wouldn’t make any more comments on Bitcoin, with JPMorgan adopting an ‘open-minded’ approach to cryptocurrencies.

In the lead up to the launch of the first-ever Bitcoin futures contracts in December by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the company even considered facilitating access to trading futures.

JPMorgan global market strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou furthered the dividing opinions between the company and its CEO, writing in a note to investors that the launch of Bitcoin futures would drive the legitimization of the cryptocurrency:

“The prospective launch of Bitcoin futures contracts by established exchanges in particular has the potential to add legitimacy and thus increase the appeal of the cryptocurrency market to both retail and institutional investors.”

Dimon seemingly changed his tune in 2018, saying he was not really interested in the subject in a January interview, while admitting he regretted his 2017 ‘fraud’ remarks.

A few weeks later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dimon told Cointelegraph that he ‘was not a skeptic’ of cryptocurrencies.

After a number of months out the spotlight, Dimon made headlines earlier this month, reportedly calling Bitcoin a ‘scam,’ before reiterating he was not interested in the subject during a gala speech.

Dimon was quoted as saying government would move to shut down cryptocurrencies due to a lack of control over the space. This followed an interview with the Harvard Business Review, in which Dimon said that JPMorgan was testing blockchain technology for use in a wide range of applications within the company.

Winds of change

Dimon’s headline grabbing statements have somewhat taken away from the work being done at the global financial institution.

As previously mentioned, the company’s CIO Lori Beer has painted a more accurate picture of the company’s stance on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Her statements of blockchain’s impending adoption and the effect it will have on a global scale cannot be understated and seems to be a big driving force in JPMorgan’s Quorum project.

As Beer said, the company needed to create a blockchain platform that serves the needs of the company and its many clients:

“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. We are connected to Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. 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.”

The CIO also said that JPMorgan is ‘evaluating’  the current state of the cryptocurrency space, while making it clear that it would only support regulated markets and currencies.

While this doesn’t take the company any closer to being actively involved in the cryptocurrency markets, its appetite for development of blockchain says a lot about the underpinning technology and the promise it has for the financial world.

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Hodler’s Digest, August 5-12: You Can’t Actually Buy A Frappucino With Bitcoin, But You Can Ship More Things On Blockchain

Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you to track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

US Security And Exchange Commission Postpones Bitcoin ETF Until Fall

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed its decision on the listing and trading of a Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) until September 30. The SEC is in the process of considering a rule change that would allow the fund, which is powered by investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX, to be listed on the CBOE BZX Equities Exchange.

WSJ Reports Price Manipulation In Crypto Conducted By Organized “Trading Groups”

According to this week’s article by the Wall Street Journal, cryptocurrency price manipulation is mainly conducted by organized “trading groups” that create “pump and dump” schemes on services like Telegram. According to the article, these groups can either create millions of dollars for themselves or be stung by the losses once all of the group dump a certain asset at the same time.

US DEA Agent: Ratio Of Criminal Activity To Legitimate BTC Transactions Has Flipped

U.S. Drug Enforcement Enforcement Administration agent Lilita Infante, who is a member of the Cyber Investigative Task Force, said this week that the number of illegitimate Bitcoin transactions has dropped to just ten percent of transactions. Infante added that she wanted people to keep using the blockchain, as it made them more easily identifiable.

Starbucks Denies Bitcoin Payment Method Hype After Misleading Media Reports

U.S. coffee chain Starbucks will not be accepting Bitcoin as payment for Frappuccinos or other drinks after a week of misleading article titles implied the opposite. After last week’s announcement by the operator of the NYSE that they would be creating a new digital asset ecosystem with Starbucks as a partnered, a wave of news reports falsely represented that Starbucks would accept crypto for coffee, while really customers will rather be able to convert BTC into fiat which can then be used at Starbucks.

Jamie Dimon Breaks Crypto Silence, Calls Bitcoin A “Scam”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said this week that Bitcoin is a “scam” and that he has “no interest” in it, while speaking at the Aspen Institute’s 25th Annual Summer Celebration Gala. According to Bloomberg, Dimon further “suggested governments may move to shut down the currencies [cryptocurrency], because of an inability to control them.” Dimon had told reporters last October that he wasn’t going to talk about Bitcoin anymore after a series of negative crypto comments in the fall.

Most Memorable Quotations

“The potential for an [exchange-traded fund] is causing investors to decide that bitcoin is the best house in a tough market,” — Tom Lee, Fundstrat’s head of research

“The main thing to remember is that bitcoin is very early-stage venture, but has real-time price feed — and that’s a unique thing. People get excited about the price and overreact,” — Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital

Laws And Taxes

Judge Advances Securities Class Action Case Against Tezos Creators

A U.S. District Judge has refused to dismiss a suit against the husband and wife duo behind blockchain project Tezos, who are currently accused of violating U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations through the sale of unregistered securities in the U.S. Although the Tezos creators maintain their fundraiser took place in Switzerland, outside of U.S. jurisdicion, the judge has disagreed.

Adoption

Commonwealth Bank of Australia To Issue Bond On Blockchain Per World Bank Mandate

The largest bank in Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), has been mandated by the World Bank to arrange a bond issue entirely on a blockchain. The Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument (bond-i) will be issued and distributed on a blockchain platform under the operation of the World Bank in Washington and CBA in Sydney. For now, the two organizations are using a private Ethereum blockchain, but the CBA noted it was open to alternatives.

Study Shows ICO Market Has More Than Doubled Since Last Year

A study conducted by independent rating agency ICORating has found that the Initial Coin Offering market has more than doubled in a year. According to the agency’s report, ICOs in 2018 have already raised over $11 billion in investments, a figure which it purports is ten times larger than the sum of investments from ICOs in Q1-2 2017.

Goldman Sachs Reportedly Plans to Offer Custody For Crypto Funds

Sources told Bloomberg this week that Goldman Sachs is planning to offer its clients custody for cryptocurrency funds, as the bank says that it remains “undecided” on its cryptocurrency plans. A spokesperson for the bank said that they are exploring “various digital products” in response to client interest.

Chair Of U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Reveals Crypto Ownings

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican representing Virginia, disclosed that he owns between $17,000 and $80,000 in cryptocurrency in what may be a first for a member of Congress to publicly report their crypto holdings. According to his release, the Congressman has principally invested in Bitcoin (BTC), with some holdings in major altcoins Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Another Swiss Bank To Accept Cryptocurrency Assets As Market Demand Increases

The Maerki Baumann private bank will become the second Swiss bank to accept cryptocurrency assets, citing the new market demands and the rise of cryptocurrencies’ popularity. The private Zurich bank has decided to accept crypto assets from payments received for services rendered, as well as those earned from crypto mining, but notes they are not ready to provide direct cryptocurrency investments.

Mergers, Acquisitions, And Partnerships

UK Financial Authority Launches International Initiative For Fintech Cooperation

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has announced the creation of a global initiative, made up of 11 financial authorities and related organizations, to work together in in order to help fintech firms interact more easily with regulators from different countries. The Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) aims to consult on topics such as the growth of technologies like distributed ledger tech and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the regulation of securities and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), among others.

Maersk, IBM Launch Global Blockchain-Based Shipping Solution

IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk have launched their global blockchain-enabled shipping solution, made up of 94 organizations. The global supply chainplatform, TradeLens, has already captured 154 million shipping events, and its dataset is reportedly growing at a rate of close to one million shipping events a day.

Winners And Losers

The crypto markets are still in the middle of their slump this week, with Bitcoin trading at around $6,583 and Ethereum at around $324 by press time. Total market cap is now at around $215 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are InflationCoin, Jesus Coin, and Galaxy eSolutions. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Artex Coin, VeThor Coin, and Network Token.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

FUD Of The Week

Wall Street Analyst Says Bitcoin Is “Game Over” If It Breaks Year-To-Date Support

Renaissance Macro Research’s head of technical research Jeff deGraaf concluded it may be “game over” for Bitcoin (BTC) in a new analysis if the cryptocurrency breaks its year-to-date support. In a note to clients, deGraaf, also claimed that Bitcoin’s price movements suggest the largest cryptocurrency is “permanently impaired.”

Bitcoin ATM Malware Found Available For Purchase Online

Tokyo-based security software manufacturer Trend Micro has found Bitcoin (BTC) ATM malware available for purchase from an “apparently established and respected” user on a darknet forum. For the price of $25,000, criminals could purchase Bitcoin ATM malware accompanied by a ready-to-use card with EMV and near-field communication (NFC) capabilities. The software exploits a BTC ATM vulnerability, allowing fraudsters to receive the BTC equivalent of up to 6,750 U.S. dollars, euros, or pounds.

Research Shows Twitter Crypto Scam Bots Number Around 15,000

An analysis of 88 million Twitter accounts has revealed more information on infamous phenomenon of cryptocurrency-related Twitter accounts advertising fake “giveaways,” finding a network of at least 15,000 scam bots. The researchers looked at the latest 200 tweets from each account, unearthing a mesh of 15,000 bots at work spreading fake competitions and impersonating some of the cryptocurrency industry’s best-known figures and businesses.

Chinese Bitcoin Trader Sues OKCoin Over Alleged Prevention Of BCH Release

A Chinese Bitcoin trader has sued the crypto exchange OKCoin for reportedly not permitting him to withdraw Bitcoin Cash after the Bitcoin forked. A local news agency reported that this is the first legal action in China that involved last year’s fork of Bitcoin. According to the lawsuit, the crypto investor has accused the exchange of blocking him from receiving 38.748 BCH that he was due after Bitcoin’s August 2017 hard fork.

UK Financial Regulator Warns Against Two Crypto “Clone Firms”

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned investors about two so-called “clone” companies this week, i.e. companies that carry out business activities under the pretense that they are a firm registered by the FCA. One clone, Fair Oaks Crypto, allegedly aims to hoodwink potential scam victims by claiming that they represent Fair Oaks Capital. The other named rogue firm, Good Crypto, was giving out “false details or mix[ing] these with some correct details of the registered firm,” which in this case was London-based Arup Corporate Finance.

Best Features

How to Lose $3 Billion of Bitcoin in India

Bloomberg takes its readers through a complex tale of cryptocurrency fraud, alleged extortion, kidnapping, and more involving a series of business partners, policeman, and even a former politician.

Blockchain: A Manifestation of the Borg?

A humorous comparison of how blockchain technology and the fictional alien race featured on the original Star Trek, the Borg, are actually quite similar due to their hive mentalities, strive for perfection, and ability to disrupt. In the author’s words: “The Borg’s catch phrase, ‘Resistance is Futile’, might as well be applied to blockchain.”

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Returns to Bitcoin Bashing, Calls Cryptocurrency a ‘Scam’

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon returned to his more critical comments about Bitcoin, calling the cryptocurrency a “scam” and saying he had “no interest” in it, Bloomberg reported Sunday, August 5.

Dimon was speaking at the Aspen Institute’s 25th Annual Summer Celebration Gala on Saturday, including cryptocurrency as part of general comments he made about the U.S. economic outlook.

His words were soon repeated in both the mainstream press and online by prominent economic sources, notably Nouriel Roubini, who has also become known this year for his critical stance on Bitcoin.

According to Bloomberg, Dimon further “suggested governments may move to shut down the currencies [cryptocurrency], because of an inability to control them.”

The finance mogul’s history with cryptocurrency has been chequered. Having caused a stir in September 2017 when he originally called Bitcoin a “fraud,” Dimon thereafter appeared to change tact, later saying he “regretted” his choice of words.

“I wouldn’t put this high on the category of important things in the world. But I’m not going to talk about bitcoin anymore,” he told reporters last October.

In January, Dimon kept his promise, telling Cointelegraph in private comments that he “can’t answer” when asked how he felt about moving markets with his earlier Bitcoin “fraud” comments. However, he added that he was “not a skeptic” regarding cryptocurrency.

In his recent interview published in the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review, Dimon again refused to comment directly on crypto, reiterating “I probably shouldn’t say any more about cryptocurrency.” In the same interview, Dimon also made a point of calling blockchain technology “real,” –– while implying that crypto is not –– saying that the banking giant is “testing it [blockchain] and will use it for a whole lot of things.”

Since then, mixed signals have emerged from other JPMorgan sources, the company’s co-president Daniel Pinto telling CNBC in May that cryptocurrencies “are real but not in the current form.” He added executives were “looking into” the space at a time when fellow finance giant Goldman Sachs revealed it was working on offering Bitcoin futures.

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Jamie Dimon Says JPMorgan Will Use Blockchain ‘for a Whole Lot of Things’

JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon was bullish on blockchain tech, but shied away from commenting on cryptocurrency, saying fiat payment apps are “the biggest potential disruption to our business” in an interview published in the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review.

When asked about his company’s chief competitive threat, Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase — the largest of America’s Big Four banks — singled out what he called “new forms of payment.” Specifically naming PayPal, Venmo and Alipay, Dimon said that “these companies are doing a good job of embedding basic banking services in their chats, their social, their shopping experience.”

While he didn’t mention crypto as a potential disruptor, when he was asked about his view on cryptocurrency in a following question, Dimon simply replied, “I probably shouldn’t say any more about cryptocurrency.” Dimon did argue that crypto is “not the same as gold or fiat currencies,” which are “supported by law, police, courts […] [are] not replicable, and there are strictures on them.” Dimon also made a point of calling blockchain technology “real,” –– which implying that crypto is not –– saying that JPMorgan is “testing it [blockchain] and will use it for a whole lot of things.”

While JPMorgan’s official position on cryptocurrency and Dimon’s opinion do not always coincide, both have seen a shift over the past year. On Sept. 13, 2017, Dimon reportedly called Bitcoin a “fraud” at an investor’s meeting, along with threatening to fire any employee trading Bitcoin on the company’s accounts.

Somewhat contrary to what Dimon told Harvard Business Review in his recent interview, in an SEC filing on Feb. 27, the bank marked cryptocurrency under the report’s “Competition” subsection, saying it could “put downward pressure on prices and fees for JPMorgan Chase’s products and services or may cause JPMorgan Chase to lose market share.”

In February of this year, a JPMorgan internal report also called cryptocurrencies the “face of the innovative maelstrom around the blockchain technology.”

When speaking with Cointelegraph in Davos in January, Dimon took a stance more similar to what he told Harvard Business review, saying he “can’t answer,” but also claiming he was “not a skeptic.”

In the last few months, however, JPMorgan — and evidently Dimon — have more explicitly come out as bullish on blockchain, with the bank even filing a blockchain-related patent on May 3.

On May 17, JPMorgan announced that they had created and filled a new position of head of crypto assets strategy.

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JPMorgan Files New Patent for Virtual Receipts on Distributed System

JPMorgan Chase & Co has filed a new patent for a system that leverages blockchain for the management of virtual receipts backed by assets or bonds, according to a US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent filing published July 19.

The new patent, titled “Systems and methods for management of asset or obligation-backed virtual receipts on a distributed system,” includes a new form of a public blockchain-based method for the management of virtual receipts, which can take the form of tokens.  

The document describes Virtual Depositary Receipts, or “Virtual Receipts,” as “asset or obligation-backed electronic tokens.” The new method would use distributed ledger technology (DLT) such as blockchain for linking “an underlying asset or obligation with its digital representation on a distributed system for the purposes of ownership tracking and transfer”.

Previously, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon had said that cryptocurrencies are “worth nothing,” also calling Bitcoin a bubble that investors “will pay the price for […] one day.”

Meanwhile, JPMorgan had already filed a patent this spring for intra- and inter-bank settlements based on blockchain technology, showing their ability to be a strong supporter of blockchain and a strong opponent of the validity and legitimacy of cryptocurrencies at the same time.

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'Just Beware' Is All Jamie Dimon Will Say About Bitcoin

“Just beware.”

That’s Jamie Dimon, CEO of Wall Street investment bank J.P Morgan Chase, who spoke Thursday to CNBC during a segment alongside billionaire investor Warren Buffett. During the joint interview, both Dimon and Buffett were asked about their views on cryptocurrency – a subject that, for the two, has sparked more than a degree of controversy – and which one “hates bitcoin more?”

Indeed, Dimon infamously branded bitcoin a “fraud” last fall – though he later reportedly said that he regretted those comments.

Today, his remarks were far more measured, with Dimon telling the network (according to a published transcript):

“I– I don’t wanna be the Bitcoin spokesman. You know, just beware.”

Buffett remarked Thursday that “I set a high standard” with his commentary – he said in January that cryptocurrencies “will come to a bad ending” – and added that “I don’t know whether Jamie can top me or not.”

The outspoken billionaire said in May that bitcoin, to him, is “rat poison squared.”

“[Bitcoin] itself is creating nothing,” he told CNBC at the time. “When you’re buying nonproductive assets, all you’re counting on is the next person is going to pay you more because they’re even more excited about another next person coming along.”

Image Credit: CNBC 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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J.P Morgan Chase ‘Looking Into’ Bitcoin (BTC), Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

In a complete 180 degree turn from previous comments by J.P Morgan Chase CEO and Chairman, Jamie Dimon, and with regards to Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies, the company’s co-president, Daniel Pinto, has stated that they are looking into the crypto space. In an interview with CNBC, Mr Pinto had this to say when asked about Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital currencies:

We are looking into that space. I have no doubt that in one way or another, the technology will play a role. [Regarding bitcoin], you cannot have something where the business proposition is to be anonymous and to be the currency for unknown activities. That will have a very short life, because people will stop believing in it, or the regulators will kill it. I think the concept is valid, you have many central banks looking into. The tokenization of the economy, for me, is real. Cryptocurrencies are real but not in the current form.

He also remarked about the current trend of Wallstreet firms offering Futures products on Bitcoin and other prominent cryptocurrencies:

If we need to clear futures of bitcoin, can we do it? Yes. Have we done it? No

Mr. Pinto’s comments came almost 6 months after Jamie Dimon had slammed Bitcoin by calling it a fraud. Mr. Dimon had further declared that his firm was willing to fire any employee willing to trade Bitcoin for it was a stupid act. He would later backpedal on his comments to the delight of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who in turn predicted that it would only be a matter of time before he sees the benefits of the crypto and blockchain industry.

J.P Morgan Chase has done just that when it filed for a blockchain patent back in October. The news was not unveiled until earlier this month. The patent outlines a system that would essentially use distributed ledger technology – blockchain – to keep track of payments sent between financial institutions.

In a nutshell, ‘big’ Wallstreet firms have finally seen the light and are in the process of investing in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

[Photo source, money.cnn.com]

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Jamie Dimon: The Final Frontier For Crypto (BTC, LTC, ETH, XRP) Investments

The crypto markets are a bit sluggish this Monday morning. But it is alright. Bitcoin (BTC) has only dropped 1.65% but maintained levels above $8,000. BTC is currently trading at $8,070. Ethereum (ETH) is still strong at $511 and Ripple (XRP) doing well at $0.655. Litecoin (LTC) seams to have found a footing above $120 and is currently trading at $127.

All the market action was catalyzed by a major pump by Bitcoin  on Thursday the 12th of April. What happened is that Bitcoin did a cool $1,000 gain in less than an hour and left many traders speechless and excited. Another possible reason for the pump is the current advice by a leading Islamic Scholar who stated that Bitcoin was permissible under Sharia Law. This then opened up Crypto trading to an estimated 1.6 Billion Muslims around the world. Perhaps they rushed in to buy as soon as this news was received.

It is with such momentum that one can muse that the final endorsement of Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies in general, might come from the President and CEO of J.P Morgan and Chase, Jamie Dimon. Mr. Dimon was initially a tough critic of Bitcoin but he would later regret calling it a fraud. This was back in early January.

What then has happened since then, is that Cryptocurrencies have taken mainstream investing by storm with a few notable turnarounds by former Bitcoin critics like Jamie Dimon. The first to change his mind, was Shark Tank Investor and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. He was later followed by billionaire investor, George Soros. His approval for crypto investing was not direct but through his investment fund management firm. He gave a go ahead for it to invest in crypto. Another entry of a prominent Wallstreet firm was the partnership of the Rockefeller family arm of investing, Venrock, with crypto startup, Coinfund.

It is with such a premise that an endorsement by Jamie Dimon – whether directly or indirectly like in the case of George Soros – would be one major step to legitimizing cryptocurrencies 100% as profitable alternative sources of investment. The event would be monumental in the sense that J.P Morgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States with a similar reach across the globe.

However, the bank has been accused of inflating its fees for cryptocurrency purchases by traders  in America who used their credit cards to do so. According to customers, the bank was treating crypto purchases as cash advances. Perhaps this is the indirect endorsement the Crypto-verse needed. If the bank treated the purchases as cash advances, then it recognizes crypto as currencies. Right?

[Photo source, huffingtonpost.com]

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George Soros Warms Up To Crypto (BTC, ETH, XRP)

In an epic move, George Soros, the billionaire business magnate and investor, is now in the business of cryptocurrency investing. Soros was initially one of the prominent investors that were vehemently against Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto in general earlier this year.

Adam Fisher, who oversees macro investing at New York-based Soros Fund Management, says he got internal approval for the move to trade in digital assets a few months ago. Mr. Fisher is yet to declare the depth of the investment by the fund.

This is a complete 180 degree turn from what Soros said in January this year. He was quoted as saying:

“Cryptocurrency is a misnomer and is a typical bubble, which is always based on some kind of misunderstanding…Bitcoin is not a currency because a currency is supposed to be a stable store of value and the currency that can fluctuate 25% in a day can’t be used for instance to pay wages because wages drop by 25% in a day. It’s a speculation. Based on a misunderstanding.” 

From the point of view of many Crypto traders and enthusiasts, his statement were viewed as ‘blasphemous’. But you can at least try to put yourself in Soros’ shoes when he made these statements. Blockchain and crytpocurrencies came into the global limelight in a manner similar to a Tsunami. And being a traditional investors of stocks, bonds and shares, digital assets would look like ponzi schemes to Mr. Soros.

But for the generation that is under 35 who have grown up with the internet, video games and social media, cryptocurrencies seemed like any other good idea in their generation similar to the iPhone or Spotify. This is why we find teenagers being Bitcoin millionaires after buying the coin years ago using their $20 weekly allowances that they saved up under their pillows.

Soros joins a growing list of big investors who have seen the proverbial light of cryptocurrencies and their potential to change global economics. Another Bitcoin doubter turned believer, is the popular Shark Tank Investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban. He too had declared Bitcoin as being a bubble only for him to recant his statements and further accept Bitcoin (BTC) as a form of payment for tickets to see the Dallas Mavericks play.

We can now safely bet that J.P Morgan’s Chairman and CEO, Jamie Damon, will also see the light and potential of cryptocurrencies after also calling Bitcoin a fraud earlier this year.

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Bitcoin Price ‘More Likely To Hit $100’ Without Illicit Uses, Says Harvard Economist

A Harvard economist told CNBC Tuesday, March 6 that Bitcoin is “more likely to be worth $100 than $100,000” by 2028. Speaking to reporters during an edition of the network’s Squawk Box segment, professor and economist Kenneth Rogoff implied Bitcoin only had value because of its use in “money laundering and tax evasion.”

“I would see $100 as being a lot more likely than $100,000 ten years from now,” he said, continuing:

“Basically, if you take away the possibility of money laundering and tax evasion, [Bitcoin’s] actual uses as a transaction vehicle are very small.”

Rogoff joins a diminishing number of traditional finance figures still maintaining a firm anti-Bitcoin stance. Despite high-profile naysayers such as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon U-turning on their negative opinions in recent months, others remain highly skeptical.

Last month, Berkshire Hathaway vice president Charlie Munger adopted a particularly harsh tone, telling the audience during an AGM speech that Bitcoin was “totally asinine” and that people investing in it “disgusted” him.

Despite mixed perspectives on price performance, the implication of Bitcoin in organized crime has come under more serious doubt this year. Despite Europol this month suggesting as much as $5.5 bln per year is laundered via cryptocurrency, Bitcoin in particular has lost favor with perpetrators, who allegedly prefer other more anonymous assets such as Monero.

Rogoff meanwhile appears alone in suggesting regulation will force the price of Bitcoin down, not up, while many industry commentators welcome regulatory moves as a step towards mainstream acceptance and adoption.