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JP Morgan is rolling out the first US bank-backed cryptocurrency to transform payments business

The first cryptocurrency created by a major U.S. bank is here — and it’s from J.P. Morgan Chase.

The lender moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day for corporations in its massive wholesale payments business. In trials set to start in a few months, a tiny fraction of that will happen over something called “JPM Coin,” the digital token created by engineers at the New York-based bank to instantly settle payments between clients.

J.P. Morgan is preparing for a future in which parts of the essential underpinning of global capitalism, from cross-border payments to corporate debt issuance, move to the blockchain. That’s the database technology made famous by its first application, bitcoin. But in order for that future to happen, the bank needed a way to transfer money at the dizzying speed that those smart contracts closed, rather than relying on old technology like wire transfers.

“So anything that currently exists in the world, as that moves onto the blockchain, this would be the payment leg for that transaction,” said Umar Farooq, head of J.P. Morgan’s blockchain projects. “The applications are frankly quite endless; anything where you have a distributed ledger which involves corporations or institutions can use this.”

For some, J.P. Morgan’s new currency may come as an unexpected development for a technology that rose from the wreckage of the financial crisis and was supposed to disrupt the established banking world.

When the international payments are tested, it will be one of the first real-world applications for a cryptocurrency in banking. The industry has mostly shunned the asset class as too risky. Last year, J.P. Morgan and two other lenders banned the purchase of bitcoins by credit card customers. And Goldman Sachs reportedly shelved plans to create a bitcoin trading desk after exploring the idea.

Dimon bashed bitcoin

Though holders of digital currencies may seize on the news that a major financial institution is issuing its own crypto as bullish for the asset class, retail investors will probably never get to own a JPM Coin. Unlike bitcoin, only big institutional clients of J.P. Morgan that have undergone regulatory checks, like corporations, banks and broker-dealers can use the tokens.

There are other key differences between the bank’s crypto and bitcoin, which J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has bashed as a fraud that won’t end well for its investors. (To be clear, he and his managers have consistently said that blockchain, as well as digital currencies that were regulated, hold promise.) 

Each JPM Coin is redeemable for a single U.S. dollar, so its value shouldn’t fluctuate, similar in concept to so-called stablecoins. Clients will be issued the coins after depositing dollars at the bank; after using the tokens for a payment or security purchase on the blockchain, the bank destroys the coins and gives clients back a commensurate number of dollars.

Real-time settlement

There are three early applications for the JPM Coin, according to Farooq.

The first is for international payments for large corporate clients, which now typically happens using wire transfers between financial institutions on decades-old networks like Swift. Instead of sometimes taking more than a day to settle because institutions have cut-off times for transactions and countries operate on different systems, the payments will settle in real time, and at any time of day, he said.

The second is for securities transactions. In April, J.P. Morgan tested a debt issuance on the blockchain, creating a virtual simulation of a $150 million certificate of deposit for a Canadian bank. Rather than relying on wires to buy the issuance — resulting in a time gap between settling the transaction and being paid for it — institutional investors can use the J.P. Morgan token, resulting in instant settlements.

The final use would be for huge corporations that use J.P Morgan’s treasury services business to replace the dollars they hold in subsidiaries across the world. Unseen by retail customers, the business handles a significant chunk of the world’s regulated money flows for companies from Honeywell International to Facebook, moving dollars for activities like employee and supplier payments. It generated $9 billion in revenue last year for the bank.

“Money sloshes back and forth all over the world in a large enterprise,” Farooq said. “Is there a way to ensure that a subsidiary can represent cash on the balance sheet without having to actually wire it to the unit? That way, they can consolidate their money and probably get better rates for it.”

Looking further out, the JPM Coin could be used for payments on internet-connected devices if that use for blockchain catches on, Farooq said.

J.P Morgan is betting that its first-mover status and large market share in corporate payments — it banks 80 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500 — will give its technology a good chance of getting adopted, even if other banks create their own coins. 

“Pretty much every big corporation is our client, and most of the major banks in the world are, too,” Farooq said. “Even if this was limited to JPM clients at the institutional level, it shouldn’t hold us back.”

Original Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/jp-morgan-is-rolling-out-the-first-us-bank-backed-cryptocurrency-to-transform-payments–.html

Insurance Giant Aetna Partners With IBM on Blockchain Network for Healthcare Industry

IBM + Aetna + Blockchain = A big deal!

U.S. based health insurance giant Aetna has partnered with IBM to create a blockchain network tailored to the healthcare industry, Reuters reported Jan. 24.

Estimated to serve over 39 million clients globally, Aetna has reportedly issued a joint statement with IBM clarifying that the blockchain system will be designed to streamline insurance claims processing and payments, as well as manage directories. The insurance giant also recently merged with retail pharmacy and healthcare firm CVS Health Corp.

Alongside American financial services firm PNC Bank, two other health insurers — which count over 55 million members combined — have also reportedly joined the initiative: not-for-profit Health Care Service Corp., the fourth largest American health insurer, with over 15 million members, and Anthem Inc., which provides coverage for over 40 million people in the U.S.

Chris Ward, an executive at PNC Bank’s treasury management unit, told Reuters that implementing a blockchain solution can “remove [the] friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”

Further members from the healthcare and technology sectors are reportedly expected to join the project in coming months, according to the statement.

Aetna is one of a group of major U.S. healthcare companies that formed an alliance last year to trial blockchain solutions for improving data integrity, security and cost efficiency. The initiative also includes leading American healthcare non-profit, Ascension.

Blockchain technology continues to gain traction in the global healthcare sector, as insurers, hospitals and other industry professionals explore its benefits for sharing, securing and streamlining sensitive clinical and other health-related information.

Original Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/insurance-giant-aetna-partners-with-ibm-on-blockchain-network-for-healthcare-industry

Western Union is Ready For Cryptocurrency (BTC/Blockchain)

Remittance giant Western Union says it’s closely watching the pace of global cryptocurrency adoption and is ready to add crypto as a payment option for its customers at any time. According to Western Union global money transfer president Odilon Almeida, integrating crypto into the company’s overall lineup of currencies is an easy task. “Western Union is ready today to adopt any kind of currency. We already operate with 130 currencies. If we one day feel like it’s the right strategy to introduce cryptocurrencies to our platform, technology-wise it’s just one more currency.

I think cryptocurrency may become one more option of currency, or assets, around the globe to be exchanged between people and businesses. If that happens, we will be ready to launch.” The company is well-positioned to help bridge the gap between cash and crypto, and boasts it has access to billions of bank accounts and over half a million retail agent locations.

Western Union has been actively testing Ripple’s cross-border payment technology since 2015. The company says those tests remain ongoing. Despite lackluster preliminary results, Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek cautioned that the company’s tests with xRapid were early and potentially “too small” to draw firm conclusions.

Amazon Has Launched a New Service for Building Blockchains

Tech giant Amazon is launching a blockchain service to help clients develop blockchain networks without incurring the costs of creating their own platform.

Announced Wednesday at Amazon’s re:Invent conference, the Amazon Managed Blockchain platform “is a fully managed service that makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks.” Users can build platforms using either Hyperledger Fabric or ethereum, though the latter is not yet available.

The new platform is another aspect of Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary which powers a large number of websites and services, including platforms like Netflix. “Amazon Managed Blockchain eliminates the overhead required to create the network, and automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions,” the service’s website says.

Samsung Will be Joining HTC and Several Startups in Introducing Smartphones Designed to Support Cryptocurrency

In just a week Samsung is going to show off its all-new Galaxy S10 family. Today, a new set of hands-on images have leaked out showcasing the standard Galaxy S10 variant, including a first look at the company’s new cryptocurrency wallet, Samsung Blockchain KeyStore.

Samsung will officially launch the Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10 Lite on February 20th. Stay tuned for more.

Wikipedia will start accepting BTC & BCH Donations via Bitpay

United States crypto payment processor BitPay and the non-profit and charitable organization that operates Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, have partnered to accept crypto donations, according to the official press release published on Jan. 29.

The Wikimedia Foundation had already accepted Bitcoin (BTC), but the aim of the new partnership with BitPay is to be able to accept donations in Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the press release states.

Streaming payments are going to be important

This is a great point of view from Founder & Partner at Morgan Creek Digital Anthony Pompliano.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about “streaming payments” recently. 

As we’ve discussed, one of my core thesis for why Bitcoin and blockchain technology is so important is that these advancements lay the foundation for an automated world. If we anticipate that the world will be dominated by machine-to-machine transactions, it is essential that assets, or base units of value, are digitized (tokenized).

Once value is in a digitally native format, we open up a world of possibilities. There has been plenty of discussion about cross-border payments, fractional ownership, and deflationary vs inflationary monetary policy, but one of the most important use cases is likely to be streaming payments.

This concept is based on a belief that Bitcoin will allow for frequent micro-transactions in a new and unexplored way. Here are a few examples of how this could work in different applications:

• Daily income — Hundreds of millions of people around the world live paycheck to paycheck. They experience incredible financial obstacles (overdrafts, increased debt, etc) over things as simple as mismatches between bills and biweekly paychecks. For example, if you get paid on the 1st and 15th of each month, but your rent and cell phone bill are due on the 12th, there is a high number of people who will plan for an overdraft fee every month in their budget. With streaming payments, corporations could pay their employees at the end of each day, rather than every other week. Did you work 8 hours today? — You get your $15/hour minus taxes and withholdings by the time you get home. This would drastically reduce the financial issues that many people living paycheck to paycheck experience.

• Subscription services — The rise of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Spotify have made subscription business models popular again. In these scenarios, everyone theoretically pays the same price, but in reality, the people who use the service the least are subsidizing the cost for the people who use it the most. While this works great for the organizations providing a service, it means that a significant portion of people are paying money for a service that they aren’t using. With streaming payments, consumers would only pay for what they use. Imagine being able to pay $0.01 per minute to listen to Spotify or watch Netflix? Companies could even create a descending pricing model (ex: $0.05/min for first 60 mins each month, $0.03/min for minutes 61-180, and $0.01/min for anything over 180 minutes, but capped at $10/month). If you’re a power user, you pay the full price. If you don’t use the service this month, you pay nothing. The pay-as-you-go model will be a hard sell to legacy businesses that are benefitting from the inefficiencies in the existing subscription models, but it ultimately creates a more customer-friendly environment.

• The key takeaway for me throughout this thought exercise has been (1) that the technology is now available for streaming payments, (2) there are a few evolutionary applications of streaming payments to Web 2.0 companies/products, and (3) the revolutionary ideas are non-obvious and fairly unexplored. These new business models or applications of streaming payments feel important and disruptive though.

If you want to spend more time on these ideas, you can watch a presentation on YouTube by Andreas Antonopoulos (here), check out Aragon’s streaming paycheck project (here), read about a deeper technical solutions proposal (here), or read the Twitter conversation around daily paychecks (here).

I’m not sure on how this space plays out, but it feels very underestimated at the moment. If you are working on related projects, or know of others, feel free to reach out.

Anthony Pompliano

Blockstream Puts 5th Bitcoin Satellite into Earth’s Orbit

Blockchain in space = A big deal! A lot of this is done under the radar, and not everyone understands how big a deal this technology is. Now it can succeed or fail, but there is major innovation going on right now. 3-5 years from now we could see massive changes in our day to day lives. 🛰🚀

Blockstream Satellite Now Means Most Of The World Can Use Bitcoin Without Internet ⤵️⤵️ Blockchain technology company Blockstream revealed the second phase of its satellite-based Bitcoin communications project Blockstream Satellite this week. Part of a plan to provide free private Bitcoin sending and receiving without the need for an internet connection, the company now provides satellite coverage of the Asia Pacific region. Sending bitcoin market data to remote locations is just one of the exciting examples of the power of this service.

Blockchain development firm Blockstream has expanded its satellite service and is now broadcasting the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to all of Earth’s major land masses, Forbes reported Dec. 17.

The wider coverage — which comes via the addition of a fifth leased satellite — brings potential internet-free Bitcoin transactions and information sharing to crypto users in the Asia Pacific region. The satellite service, still in beta, had hitherto already been available across Africa, Europe, South and North America.

Blockstream has also reportedly launched a new application programming interface (API), which allows lets the satellites be used to exchange encrypted messages and pay for them using micropayments on the Lightning Network. Blockstream CSO Samson Mow contextualized the move, saying, “Bitcoin has always been about uncensorable money, and now we have uncensorable communications as well.” As Forbes outlines, the ambitious Bitcoin space initiative aims to free crypto usage from dependency on access to the internet and make the security of the Bitcoin network maximally robust.

Facebook Makes First Blockchain Acquisition With Chainspace 

Facebook Makes First Blockchain Acquisition With Chainspace ⛓️✔️✔️👌

Social media giant Facebook has made an advance in its blockchain effort by hiring a blockchain startup specializing in smart contracts and facilitating payments. Facebook has hired a small blockchain company called Chainspace, which is specialized in building decentralized smart contracts systems, which could facilitate payments. In late December 2018, reports revealed that Facebook is working on a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar in order to allow WhatsApp users to transfer money. 💯