JPMorgan Chase & Co. is set to debut its own digital currency, according to a CNBC report Thursday, a striking move for a company led by one of the most vocal critics of bitcoin and its ilk.
According to the news channel, JPMorgan
, under CEO Jamie Dimon, is preparing to unfurl JPM Coin, a proprietary currency engineered by the bank’s technology group.
CNBC said that project is being headed by Umar Farooq, JPMorgan’s head of blockchain. All of the use cases for JPM Coin aren’t entirely clear, but Farooq told CNBC in an interview that its application could be wide-ranging. The so-called JPM Coin is pegged to the U.S. dollar
and could be used as a vehicle for international payments.
Wall Street companies have long toyed with the idea of using the blockchain, or distributed-ledger technology that underpins most crypotcurrencies, to track trades and help create efficiencies in their businesses. However, few, if any, have effectively rolled out a real-world use for blockchain or cryptocurrencies.
The move by JPMorgan comes even as bitcoin
, one of the most popular digital currencies in the world, has seen its value crumble by more than 80% since its peak near $20,000 in late 2017 to its current price at around $3,500.
Read: Bitcoin’s losing streak set to continue as the digital asset trades back to $3,500
Proponents of digital coins, a group viewed as comprising antiestablishment and anti-Wall Street players, have been awaiting increased adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies by traditional businesses. Some on Wall Street have been hoping for an exchange-traded fund, or ETF, backed by digital currencies to debut, but none among the handful currently seeking approval has been given the regulatory green light.
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For his part, Dimon has referred to bitcoin as a “fraud,” but has said he sees utility in blockchain.
A call to a JPMorgan official by MarketWatch Thursday morning wasn’t immediately returned.
JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has seen its shares climb 5.6% so far in 2019, underperforming the broader market, with the S&P 500 index
up 9.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
, of which JPMorgan Chase is a component, gaining 9.5% over the same period.