London-based Oliver Harris, 29, will take the new role, reporting to the head of blockchain development, Umar Farooq. Harris will also lead JPMorgan’s internal blockchain project Quorum, which began testing by JP Morgan Chase and the National Bank of Canada last month.
According to Business Insider, Harris will be identifying and leading new crypto projects for the bank, rather than actively trading in cryptocurrencies. He will reportedly investigate crypto custody services and how blockchain could work in JPMorgan’s payments business.
For the last two years, Harris has been leading JPMorgan’s In Residence program, which identifies and partners with fintech startups that the bank finds promising.
Daniel Pinto, co-president of JPMorgan, has recently taken a positive stance on cryptocurrencies in an interview with CNBC, claiming that the “tokenization” of the financial system is “real”, with “many central banks looking into” it. However, Pinto stressed that crypto adoption is not possible in its “current form”.
In general, the investment banking giant has been skeptical of cryptocurrencies. JPMorgan banned its customers from crypto purchases with credit cards back in February, in addition to including cryptocurrencies to the “Risk Factor” section of its 2017 annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Last year, JPMorgan’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin (BTC) a “fraud” and claimed that he would fire any employee trading BTC on the company's accounts. Dimon soon reversed his position in January, admitting that he regretted his earlier statements and adopting a lukewarm stance toward crypto. Dimon said he is, “not interested that much in [crypto] at all.”