JPMOR­GAN EX­PLOR­ING CRYP­TOCUR­REN­CIES

The Globe and Mail (Atlantic Edition) - - GLOBE | INVESTOR -

JPMor­gan Chase & Co. joined Wall Street ri­vals in ex­press­ing a will­ing­ness to get in­volved with cryp­tocur­ren­cies such as bit­coin, which surged to a record on Thurs­day.

“We are very open minded to the po­ten­tial use cases in the fu­ture for dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies that are prop­erly con­trolled and reg­u­lated,” chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Mar­i­anne Lake said in re­sponse to a ques­tion on a con­fer­ence call with jour­nal­ists, af­ter the bank re­ported third-quar­ter re­sults. “We’re not go­ing to not be part of that con­ver­sa­tion. We’ll have to see, it’s quite nascent.”

The com­ments come one month af­ter chief ex­ec­u­tive Jamie Di­mon called bit­coin a “fraud” and said he would fire any em­ployee trad­ing it for be­ing “stupid,” a cri­tique echoed by some other fi­nanciers. Ri­vals in­clud­ing Gold­man Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blank­fein have said they’re open to ways that their firms can get in­volved with the new tech­nol­ogy. Cit­i­group Inc. CFO John Gerspach said on `Thurs­day that his firm is tak­ing an “in­tense” look at cryp­tocur­ren­cies and the blockchain tech­nol­ogy that un­der­lies them.

It’s an area “wor­thy of ex­plo­ration,” Mr. Gerspach said af­ter his bank re­ported quar­terly re­sults.

“We’re more fo­cused on the un­der­ly­ing tech­nol­ogy, the blockchain, which we think has real po­ten­tial to de­liver com­mer­cial-ori­ented so­lu­tions.”

Reg­u­la­tors world­wide are grap­pling with how to over­see cryp­tocur­ren­cies, which of­fer anonymity that has made them at­trac­tive to crim­i­nals. In his com­ments last month, Mr. Di­mon said the best ar­gu­ment he’s heard for bit­coin is that it can be use­ful to crim­i­nals or to peo­ple in such places as North Korea.

“I wouldn’t put this high in the cat­e­gory of im­por­tant things in the world, but I’m not go­ing to talk about bit­coin any more,” Mr. Di­mon said on Thurs­day. Later, he added that JPMor­gan moves tril­lions of dol­lars a day “ef­fec­tively dig­i­tally” to­day. “It’s not cash,” he said.

Ms. Lake said blockchain tech­nol­ogy is some­thing New York-based JPMor­gan is us­ing in­ter­nally while test­ing ways it can help the bank in­ter­act with clients.

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