JPMorgan Pursues Tokenization Plans Despite Crypto Downturn and Regulatory Hurdles

Source: AdobeStock / Alexey Novikov

Major Wall Street investment bank JPMorgan is moving forward with its push to tokenize traditional financial assets despite last year’s market downturn.

According to Tyrone Lobban, the head of JPMorgan’s digital asset and tokenization platform Onyx, the bank has already processed close to $700 billion in short-term loans on Onyx, with more to come in the near future.

“We think that tokenization is a killer app for traditional finance,” Lobban was quoted as saying in a CoinDesk interview this week, while adding:

“If you think about private markets – private credit, private equity and private real estate – they are pretty much double the size of public markets, but many orders of magnitude less liquid, so there’s this huge disparity,”

A temporary setback

Despite the optimism about the future, Lobban admitted in the interview that the Onyx team has felt first-hand the effect of the crypto market downturn as well as regulatory crackdowns in the US, and said things could take a bit longer than expected to play out.

“The timing might be a little bit longer than what it was before, but our strategy hasn’t changed at all,” Lobban said.

He added that the recent setbacks mean very little over the long term.

“In any case, there’s so much work to do that these kinds of momentary lows are really very minor over the long term. We’re lucky to have the resources to be able to actually deliver on these very big use cases, and if we can help bring more clarity to regulators and help them understand the value, then that’s only a good thing as well,” JPMorgan’s Lobban said.

Onyx is a permissioned version of the Ethereum blockchain created by JPMorgan for use between different banking partners.

The platform has so far been mainly used to make transactions in the so-called repo (repurchase) market, a market where institutions can borrow assets for short-term financing needs.

Among the banks that are known to have joined JPMorgan on the platform are Goldman Sachs (GS), BNP Paribas and DBS Bank, while several other banks and financial institutions are considering to sign up.

When word first came out in May last year that JPMorgan was serious about its tokenization plans, some in the crypto community said the fact that banks are showing off their enterprise blockchain projects can be seen as a “fire signal we're in a bear market.”

In addition to having Onyx, JPMorgan is well-known in crypto circles for launching its own centralized digital token known as JPM Coin all the way back in 2019.

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