Banks remain skeptical of, if not outright hostile towards, cryptocurrency. They are inversely bullish, however, about its underlying technology – blockchain. This decentralized, public transaction ledger has been embraced by financial institutions for its transparency, speed, and security (as well as its potential to cut costs), and creative uses are being regularly implemented in different sectors. Now, JPMorgan has announced potential plans to spin-off its blockchain network, Quorum, into an independent company.
Quorum, which shares 95 percent of its software with cryptocurrency Ethereum’s blockchain, is an “enterprise-focused version of Ethereum…ideal for any application requiring high speed and high throughput processing of private transactions within a permissioned group of known participants” aimed at addressing “specific challenges to blockchain technology adoption within the financial industry, and beyond.”
The open-source project began in 2016, becoming part of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) in February of 2017. The EEA, which was developed to further the development of the Ethereum blockchain for business use, counts heavyweights like Santander and MasterCard as members. Since its launch, Quorum has attracted some significant international clients, with users including Microsoft, Genentech, and Pfizer.
Amber Baldet, the former product development lead for the project who recently left to found her own blockchain venture, spoke at March’s EthCC conference about using Quorum to further a spirit of collaboration between different networks. Baldet described the problems faced by blockchain designers as “[not] so far apart,” – in her estimation, differences between developers are based on approach, not overarching goals.
Meanwhile, banks remain hungry for developments related to the technology – continued success means simplifying their business infrastructure, reducing costs, and making processes like securities settlement more streamlined, or payment processing instantaneous.
Talks about turning Quorum into an independent company are in their early stages. Executives are said to be determining if the increased autonomy resulting from a spin-off would allow Quorum to support new open-source projects with additional partners. Brian Marchiony, a JPMorgan spokesman, said in a statement that “[JPMorgan continues]to believe distributed ledger technology will play a transformative role in business, which is why [they] are actively building multiple blockchain solutions…Quorum has become an extremely successful enterprise platform even beyond financial services and we’re excited about its potential.” No matter which fate JPMorgan executives choose for Quorum, banks are ready to continue betting big on blockchain and its transformative powers for their industry.