Major US-based multinational investment bank JPMorgan announced yesterday that it has launched a digital coin that will be backed by the US dollar.

A major breakthrough for cryptocurrencies which had for a long time been blighted in some circles as being untrustworthy, or so would some think. As a matter of fact, JPMorgan was among those in 2017 who ridiculed cryptocurrency and specifically called Bitcoin a fraud. Although its perspective on the subject of blockchain industry as well as properly controlled and regulated cryptocurrencies was that it held promise. Now, it stands as the first major US bank creating a digital coin and one among others in the traditional banking industry to create a real-world application of blockchain technology.

Consequently, this development has aroused some controversial sentiments within the crypto community. According to MarketWatch, Jerry Brito – executive director at Coin Center told the news outlet that the JPM coin isn’t a cryptocurrency but an in-house-built payment system. The bank did clarify on the differences between its digital coin and cryptocurrencies, however, it is a popular sentiment that any product built on the blockchain is assumed to come with the tag ‘cryptocurrency’.

As explained on the bank’s website, it appears that the JPM coin isn’t a legal tender, but a digital coin backed by the US dollar – not a stablecoin either – stored in designated accounts of JPMorgan Chase. The bank said that when one client sends money to another over the blockchain, JPM Coins are transferred and instantaneously redeemed for the equivalent amount of US dollars, reducing the typical settlement time.

The JPM coin will only be used between its institutional clients as the core purpose of the coin is to save time for inter-bank/institution settlements, leveraging the robustness of the blockchain as opposed to legacy systems of money transfers. Accordingly, the coin will not be available to individuals, however, the bank says that the rippling effect in the efficiency of money transfer will confer certain benefits to individuals.

The bank may not stop at the digital coin alone, it said in its news release that with respect to its other businesses like custody or clearing and settlement, “it’s still too early to assess the ultimate impact of blockchain,” and it intends to further explore areas of applicability as it works with clients around the world. Perhaps, it may join the list of financial institutions proposing to offer custody solutions in an attempt to cater to institutional investors willing to join the crypto derivative market once the system is well regulated.

Blockchain-related trends in the banking industry have been growing of late with expanding use cases specific to interfacing with the technology to facilitate money transfers between financial institutions. As reported in December last year, Signature Bank’s Signet may have been the first regulator-approved blockchain-based payment system developed by a bank. It was designed to eliminate third parties and process payments faster between the bank’s clients.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been discussing plans on developing a blockchain-based cross-border payment system for inter-bank relations.

Moreover, the subject of a state-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC) has been frequently discussed in many banking circles. However, the views on such development have been rather polarized. Perhaps, this step made by JPMorgan will further facilitate the adoption of different blockchain use cases for other banks as they race for inclusion into the emerging market.

 

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