Over the past 24 hours, numerous news outlets have reported on the JPMorgan blockchain patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But the story is neither new nor newsworthy.
The JPMorgan Blockchain Patent Application Filed Last Year Was Not Their First Rodeo
The application was filed with the office on October 30th, 2017. It was made public on May 3rd. The patent documentation describes a system that facilitates interbank payments using blockchain technology.
It is not the first time the bank has submitted a blockchain-related patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As long ago as 2013, JPMorgan submitted an unsuccessful patent application that argued:
“There is no efficient way for consumers to make payments to other consumers using the Internet. All traditional forms of person-to-person exchange include the physical exchange of cash or checks rather than a real-time digital exchange of value. In addition, the high cost of retail wire transfers (i.e., Western Union) is cost prohibitive to a significant portion of society.”
Quorum Launched in 2016
JPMorgan’s interest in blockchain technology is no secret. The bank launched Quorum in 2016 for the purpose, in its own words, of “Increasing efficiency and streamlining global payments to enable 24/7 payment settlement and status tracking”. Quorum followed the company’s first tilt at into blockchain payment networks, Juno, a distributed cryptoledger, also in the same year.
The bank is now mulling spinning Quorum off into its own entity due to the perception that other banks may be reluctant to deploy the service because of its association with JPMorgan. But that does not speak to JPMorgan’s loss of interest in the technology. In a statement, the U.S. financial services giant said:
“We continue to believe distributed ledger technology will play a transformative role in business which is why we are actively building multiple blockchain solutions.”
Conflating Blockchain with Bitcoin
The bank’s outspoken CEO Jamie Dimon is notorious for his hostility toward bitcoin. In mid-October last year at an event hosted by the Institute of International Finance he said:
“I could care less what bitcoin trades for, how it trades, why it trades, who trades it. If you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price for it one day.”
That remark came a mere day after he told reporters during a third-quarter earnings call, “I’m not going to talk about bitcoin anymore”. Those comments came nearly a month after he labeled bitcoin a ‘fraud’ at the Delivering Alpha investment conference. Admittedly, he has since expressed regret for that statement.
A Dimon in the Rough
Jamie Dimon has always expressed a negative opinion of bitcoin, but has similarly also expressed positivity toward blockchain. And JPMorgan’s blockchain endeavors would suggest that. It is important for news outlets not to overhype the bank’s recent patent application. In fact, it is barely worth reporting at all, unless one confuses the endorsement of blockchain technology by a large financial institution as contradictory to its CEO’s stance toward bitcoin.
Have your say. Is the JPMorgan Blockchain Patent Application story newsworthy? Does it change the cryptocurrency or fintech landscape in any way?
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