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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon questions 21 million bitcoin cap

·Reporter
·2 min read
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Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the largest U.S. bank, took another jab at bitcoin bulls on Monday, alleging that the cryptocurrency may not be limited in quantity.

“I'll just challenge the group to one other thing: how do you know it ends at 21 million? You all read the algorithms? You guys all believe that? I don't know, I've always been a skeptic of stuff like that,” said the JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO at an Institute for International Finance event on Oct. 11.

The price of bitcoin was hovering around $57,000 as of Monday morning.

Dimon was questioning the key basis of bitcoin: a 21 million coin cap that gives the asset the appeal of a controlled supply.

But the bitcoin code clearly notes that the maximum number of coins is 21 million. In theory, the open source nature of the bitcoin code would allow for changes to that cap, but it would require sign off from a large share of Bitcoin “nodes” that host and run the software.

The 21 million coin cap serves as a major pillar of the cryptocurrency’s value proposition, making it unlikely that the community would ever move to change that.

'I'm not going to stop our people from banking it'

Dimon said that he still feels bitcoin is “worthless,” but elaborated that his opinions on cryptocurrency do not determine JPMorgan Chase’s approach to offering crypto products. The CEO said that the bank can offer clients some "legitimate" access to the crypto space if they want (although the bank isn't offering custody services).

The CEO’s remarks echo his commentary from May, when he compared the rising asset class to the business of banking weed.

"My own personal advice to people is: stay away from it. That does not mean the clients don't want it,” Dimon told Congress on May 27. “This goes back to how you have to run a business. I don't smoke marijuana but if you make it nationally legal, I'm not going to stop our people from banking it."

Although JPMorgan Chase is not offering crypto custody at the moment, the bank is toying around with blockchain technologies through its “Onyx” business. The bank is building up a network that it has started using to trade smart contracts with other banks.

Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the Fed, economics, and banking for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.

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