It was revealed today that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has assigned 29-year-old Oliver Harris, the head of the firm’s in-house fintech program, to a new role investigating potential usages of cryptocurrencies across its corporate and investment banking initiatives. Citing insiders close to the matter, Financial News London reported that Harris will also be heading up the Quorum project, an internal blockchain platform rumored to be preparing for a spinoff.
Harris will likely look to fill the shoes of Amber Baldet, a former executive who led the bank’s blockchain team before leaving to start her own, unidentified blockchain-related business earlier this year. The report indicates that Harris will investigate potential crypto custody and payment services.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a well-known critic of cryptocurrencies, is on record last year calling Bitcoin a fraud that’s “worse than tulip bulbs.” However, Dimon’s criticism has softened as of late, stating that he is now open-minded to the idea of crypto in an interview in December.
Earlier this week, the bank’s co-president Daniel Pinto gave an interview with CNBC in which he seemed optimistic about crypto. He stated that JPMorgan is looking into bitcoin futures and trading digital currencies. Though he criticized the private, anonymous nature of crypto, he conceded that tokenization of the economy is a real prospect. It seems JPMorgan is considering following the footsteps of Goldman Sachs (GS) to create a market for institutional clients.
2017: Bitcoin is fraud says Jamie Dimon
2018 January: I regret calling bitcoin a fraud says Jamie Dimon
2018 May: JPMorgan is preparing to allow clients to invest in crypto and bitcoin.
Who could have written a better script?https://t.co/1WRNDZf7VA
— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) May 17, 2018
JPMorgan has not officially addressed the new assignment, but Harris has changed his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new role.