JPMorgan Chase & Co Quits Blockchain Consortium R3

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
JPMorgan Chase & Co Quits Blockchain Consortium R3
JP Morgan & Chase Co., the largest bank in the United States, has become the latest banking giant to exit the blockchain consortium led by New York-based startup R3 CEV. Photo: Canadian Pacific/Flickr

JP Morgan has announced its exit from the bank blockchain consortium, thus becoming the latest banking giant to leave the initiative.

One of the leading banks in the United States has quit the banking group led by the distributed ledger startup R3, which confirmed the bank’s departure to Reuters.  The move comes a few months after the bank declined to take part in R3’s fundraising round.

JP Morgan joined the consortium in September 2015, along with nine other investment banks, including UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, and BBVA.

Currently, R3 includes around 80 financial organizations as its members. The startup is now looking to raise $150 million from its members and strategic investors in exchange for a 60% share in R3. Initially, the firm planned to raise $200 million in return for a 90% stake, but later lowered its target to $150 million.

“JPMorgan parted ways with R3 to pursue a very distinct technology path which is at odds with the one chosen by the global financial services industry, represented by our 80-plus members,” said Charley Cooper, a managing director at R3.

Goldman Sachs and Banco Santander, which also among the earliest members of the group, exit the group in late 2016. In November 2016, Morgan Stanley unveiled its desire to part ways with the consortium.

Earlier this year, JP Morgan, together with Microsoft, Intel, UBS, and other companies, formed The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to develop standards and technology for easier use of the blockchain code Ethereum. The bank is also a member of the Hyperledger Project led by the Linux Foundation. The group consists of over 100 members that are developing the blockchain technology for its application in the financial and other industries.

JP Morgan is also working on its own private system for peer-to-peer transactions, called Quorum. The platform is based on the ethereum blockchain, the technology which R3 decided not to use. “Ethereum was a platform we looked at and decided was not fit for purpose,” Charley Cooper, managing director of R3, told American Banker. According to Cooper, the issues of privacy, immutability of transactions, and scalability, were among those that influenced R3’s decision.

“Our thinking was, it would be easier if there was solution fit for purpose, if something out there was close we could adapt it to our needs, but meanwhile we’re going to build something in parallel, a platform fit for purpose for financial services. Ethereum was not deemed by R3’s experts and our members to be appropriate for the financial services industry,” he said.

The departure of JP Morgan, American Banker reports, demonstrates the blockchain technology is still in the experimental stage. “There may well be multiple distributed ledger systems in financial services over the next decade,” said Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services Club. “Then we will be working on interoperability and standards between ledgers. It reminds me of the old discussions of standards. ‘Sure, we got standards. Which one do you want?’”

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