Published - February 14, 2019
J.P. Morgan this month became the first U.S. bank to create and successfully test a digital coin representing a fiat currency. The JPM Coin is based on blockchain-based technology enabling the instantaneous transfer of payments between institutional accounts. We sat down with Umar Farooq, head of Digital Treasury Services and Blockchain, to find out more about the announcement and what it means for the future of payments.
So what exactly is the JPM Coin and what is it used for?
JPM Coin is a digital coin designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology. Exchanging value, such as money, between different parties over a blockchain requires a digital currency, so we created the JPM Coin.
Are JPM Coins a currency or legal tender?
The JPM Coin isn’t money per se. It is a digital coin representing United States Dollars held in designated accounts at JPMorgan Chase N.A. In short, a JPM Coin always has a value equivalent to one U.S. dollar. When one client sends money to another over the blockchain, JPM Coins are transferred and instantaneously redeemed for the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars, reducing the typical settlement time.
Will it be used for other currencies besides the U.S. Dollar?
Over time, JPM Coin will be extended to other major currencies. The product and technology capabilities are currency agnostic.
How did you test the JPM Coin?
We successfully tested the movement of money between a client account and a J.P. Morgan account using the new technology.
What is J.P. Morgan's official stance on cryptocurrencies?
We have always believed in the potential of blockchain technology and we are supportive of cryptocurrencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated. As a globally regulated bank, we believe we have a unique opportunity to develop the capability in a responsible way with the oversight of our regulators. Ultimately, we believe that JPM Coin can yield significant benefits for blockchain applications by reducing clients’ counterparty and settlement risk, decreasing capital requirements and enabling instant value transfer.
Why is it beneficial to have J.P. Morgan's involvement?
With our fortress balance sheet, expertise in blockchain and global payments network, J.P. Morgan can seamlessly and securely transfer and settle money for clients around the world.
Strong Balance Sheet - with a $2.6 trillion balance sheet, JPMorgan Chase N.A. will redeem each JPM Coin in fiat currency. In other words, one JPM Coin represents $1.
Security and Innovation - JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, spends approximately $800 million each year on cybersecurity and has a Blockchain Center of Excellence that is leading innovation in financial services.
Strong Controls and Compliance - In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars invested annually in cybersecurity, JPMorgan Chase has strong AML and KYC controls in place.
Regulatory Oversight - being a nationally chartered U.S. bank with global presence, JPMorgan Chase must comply with banking laws and regulations. J.P. Morgan is supervised by banking regulators in the United States and in the international jurisdictions in which it operates.
Are regulators supportive of the JPM Coin?
JPM Coin is currently a prototype. As we move towards production we will actively engage our regulators to explain its design and solicit their feedback and any necessary approvals.
Does the JPM Coin run on Quorum, J.P. Morgan's blockchain technology?
The JPM Coin will be issued on Quorum Blockchain and subsequently extended to other platforms. JPM Coin will be operable on all standard Blockchain networks.
What impact will JPM Coin have on J.P. Morgan's other businesses like Custody or Clearing & Settlement?
It is still too early to assess the ultimate impact of blockchain on different businesses. We continue to work with our clients around the world to explore different use cases for this type of technology.
Does the development of JPM Coin have any impact on the Interbank Information Network (IIN), J.P. Morgan’s new blockchain network?
IIN transfers information, not payments, between correspondent banks. The JPM Coin, representing fiat currency, is designed to instantaneously transfer value.
Can I use JPM Coins as an individual consumer?
JPM Coin is currently a prototype that will be tested with a small number of J.P. Morgan’s institutional clients, with plans to expand the pilot program later this year. JPM Coin is currently designed for business-to-business money movement flows, and because we are still in a testing phase, we don’t have plans to make this available to individuals at this stage. That said, the cost-savings and efficiency benefits would extend to the end customers of our institutional clients.