Jamie Dimon’s Cryptocurrency Reversal

JPMorgan Chase has launched its own cryptocurrency — just two years after its CEO said cryptocurrencies weren’t a real thing.

Jamie Dimon (Illustration by II; Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Jamie Dimon

(Illustration by II; Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Less than two years after JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon publicly decried Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, his firm has launched a cryptocurrency of its own.

The firm announced Thursday that it is testing the cryptocurrency, called JPM Coin, with a small set of its institutional clients and plans to expand the pilot program later in 2019.

This is a departure from Dimon’s opinion on the technology. In October 2017, at the Delivering Alpha conference that Institutional Investor co-hosts with CNBC, he said Bitcoin was “worse than tulip bulbs,” Institutional Investor reported at the time.

Dimon added: “It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” and said that cryptocurrencies in general “are not a real thing,” at the conference, Institutional Investor reported.

And yet, JPMorgan has become the first U.S. bank to successfully test a digital coin, it said in its announcement Thursday.

“JPM Coin is a digital coin designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology,” the firm’s announcement said. “Exchanging value, such as money, between different parties over a blockchain requires a digital currency, so we created the JPM Coin.”

JPMorgan said in its announcement that a JPM Coin will always have the same value as a U.S. dollar. However, the firm plans to eventually offer JPM Coin in other major currencies, its announcement said.

The coin will be issued on JPMorgan’s blockchain technology, Quorum, according to the firm. Blockchain acts as a centralized ledger for cryptocurrencies, keeping track of crypto transactions. Following JPM Coin’s issuance, the coin will operate on all standard blockchain networks, it said.

At present, only institutional clients have access to JPM Coin.

[II Deep Dive: Jamie Dimon’s Bitcoin Rant Defends Status Quo]

As for how the firm views the role of cryptocurrency now?

“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,” the firm’s announcement said. “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.”

A spokesperson for JPMorgan declined to comment on how specifically the JPM Coin fits in with Dimon’s stance on cryptocurrency.