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October 12, 2021

JPMorgan CEO on getting into bitcoin: “You shouldn’t smoke cigarettes either”

By Eric Johansson

The CEO of JPMorgan believes bitcoin is “worthless” and like smoking cigarettes, despite the investment bank having launched its own cryptocurrency services.

Jamie Dimon made the comments during a virtual conversation hosted by the Institute of International Finance on Monday, CNBC reported.

The JPMorgan CEO has been a long-time critic of the cryptocurrency asset class, telling a New York investor conference in 2017 that bitcoin was a “fraud” that would eventually “blow up”.

He has since softened his comments, particularly after JPMorgan began offering wealth management clients access to cryptocurrency funds this summer.

Other incumbent players announcing or launching similar services include PayPal and Mastercard.

Bitcoin evangelists have interpreted these moves as endorsements for cryptocurrencies.

Dimon remains sceptical about the asset class, but is still happy for clients to tap into the market via the bank.

“I personally think that bitcoin is worthless,” the JPMorgan CEO said. “I don’t think you should smoke cigarettes either.”

“I don’t want to be a spokesperson – I don’t care. It makes no difference to me,” he said. “Our clients are adults. They disagree. That’s what makes markets. So, if they want to have access to buy bitcoin, we can’t custody it but we can give them legitimate, as clean as possible, access.”

Market analysts are unsurprised by Dimon’s latest bitcoin jibe, which echoed recent sentiment from the chair of NatWest Bank, who compared bitcoin trading to entering hell.

“Jamie Dimon’s rants are well-known. Despite saying he doesn’t want to become a spokesperson, he can’t help himself in making numerous provocative statements about crypto and bitcoin on a regular basis,” Nicklas Nilsson, senior analyst at GlobalData and the author of a recent thematic research report on blockchain, tells Verdict.

His attitude towards the crypto space is very American; he thinks it’s worthless but is happy to capitalise on it.”

While cryptocurrencies are the most well-known applications of blockchain technology, distributed ledger solutions have several other use cases.

Blockchain can be used for everything from anti-money laundering solutions to proving ownership, such as the solutions underling non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

Maybe it’s therefore unsurprising that financial institutions like JP Morgan aren’t leading the way when it comes to blockchain technology.

Instead, tech companies like IBM, Accenture and Infosys are the market forerunners, according to GlobalData’s recent thematic scorecard on the blockchain and IT service leaders in the world.