Funny how time flies when you’re having fun. Last year, the mainstream spent the year attacking Bitcoin for losing over 50% of it’s U.S. Dollar value, starting out over $800, and ending at just over $300. Yet, 2015 has not only shown Bitcoin’s resiliency in market value, but the underlying Blockchain technology has been the talk of the economic world. Bitcoin’s Blockchain is attracting Fortune 500 corporations from around the world for use in future business. J.P. Morgan is the latest to “Aggressively invest” in Bitcoin’s technology.
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Internal memos were obtained by Business Insider, explaining how J.P. Morgan will spend 2016 focusing on the integration of Bitcoin’s Blockchain technology, amongst other cutting-edge technologies like robotics and “big data”. Daniel Pinto is the head of J.P. Morgan’s Corporate and Investment Bank.
“As we look ahead to 2016, one of our major priorities will be to aggressively pursue the innovative technologies that we have been making investments in. Internal working groups have made significant advances this year and will be provided even more freedom to develop market-leading platforms in 2016. We have also established teams dedicated to areas such as blockchain technology, big data applications and robotics.”
Demand for more efficient ledgers that don’t require the added time, expense, and the exposure the current counterpart system adds is rabid. Banks, in particular, are behind the curve when it comes to moving information efficiently, relying heavily on 20th-century tech to make transfers. The innovations being used for the past seven years by Bitcoin has finally enlightened the legacy banking industry on what can be done when you innovate. In an industry so heavily regulated as banking, innovation is curbed dramatically, but being an incumbent that helps create self-protecting regulations does that even better.
Bitcoin as a digital currency clearly doesn’t serve a banking industry built around the concept of exploiting the fractional reserve banking system. Jamie Dimon made news in the fall with his aggressive posture towards the digital currency, deciding that it will be deemed an illegal currency by the U.S. Government at some point in the future.
“You’re wasting your time,” Dimon said when asked directly about Bitcoin at a Fortune Magazine Forum in October. “When the Department of Justice calls up and says ‘That’s an illegal currency, and it’s against the laws of the United States of America, and if you do it again, we’ll put you in jail, it’s over. This is my personal opinion. There will be no real non-controlled currency in the world. There’s no government that will put up with it for long. It's kind of cute now, but there will be no currency that gets around government controls. The (Blockchain) technology will be used, even to transfer currency, but it will be dollars.”
Notice how Dimon used the term “currency” not money. He cannot call dollars “money” because, by definition, money is a store of value. U.S. Dollars, or any fiat currency, lose several percent per annum due to inflation, and have lost 97% of their actual value over the last century, so fiat currency doesn’t not qualify as money.
How banks currently move funds is through batch transactions at the end of the business day, kind of like a block entering the blockchain, only moving much slower, in daily increments, not every ten minutes or so. Plus, a third party has to move these funds, and a verification process has to be run when the sending institution moves funds to the intermediary and the intermediary transfers to the ending bank. At some point, banks look to have a wallet that can receive funds more directly, without the 3rd-party, or without waiting for a batch of transactions.
R3 made news earlier in September by negotiating a partnership with many major banks, in lauding J.P. Morgan, to work with them on Blockchain integration into their mainstream operations. Last week, R3 announced that they have signed more than forty banks overall this year, with many new partners joining the fold.
BMO Financial Group, Danske Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, Nomura, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Banco Santander, Scotiabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, U.S. Bancorp and Westpac Banking Corporation have all joined the banking partnership. They join industry leaders, like J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo, among others.