JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive James Dimon is one of the most outspoken critics of bitcoin, indicating that if any of the bank’s traders bought or sold the digital currency he would “fire them in a second, for two reasons: It is against our rules and they are stupid, and both are dangerous.”
Yet despite its leader’s strong distaste for bitcoin, the Wall Street bank is reportedly looking at business opportunities in the planned bitcoin futures market. (See also: Bitcoin's Potential Is Underestimated: Thiel.)
The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, reports that JPM is considering whether to provide its clients access to CME’s new bitcoin product through its futures-brokerage unit. Chicago-based exchange operator CME Group Inc. is set to launch bitcoin futures by the end of 2017, subject to regulatory approval. The addition of bitcoin futures would carry the virtual currency one step closer to the financial mainstream, facilitating financial firms and retail investors in trading. CME’s smaller rival Cboe Global Markets Inc. (CBOE) is reportedly also looking into launching bitcoin futures.
'Fraud,' or the Future of Finance?
While other big banks, including Morgan Stanley (MS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), who offer their customers access to CME’s markets through their futures-brokerage arms, must decided whether to support CME’s bitcoin futures, none have a CEO as opposed to bitcoin as Dimon. The CEO has deemed bitcoin a “fraud” and warned at a conference last month that “if you’re stupid enough to buy it, you will pay the price for it one day.” Dimon’s stance on bitcoin comes at a time when many institutional investors are changing their minds regarding the digital currency, with true bitcoin bulls expecting prices to reach $200,000.
Last week, bitcoin rose past the $8,000 mark for the first time ever. Trading at $8,193.91 on Wednesday afternoon, bitcoin reflects a whopping 1,006% surge over the most recent 12-month period. (See also: Bitcoin Price Sets Another High By Crossing $8,200.)