Is Bitcoin’s Newest Competitor JPMorgan Chase?

chase_symbol_digitalJPMorgan Chase made waves today with the filing — or re-filing — of a patent application for a payments platform that includes “virtual cash.”

The move was first noted by LetsTalkBitcoin, which called Chase’s move “an attempt to launch a bitcoin-killer.” The patent application is dated Nov. 28, Thanksgiving Day, though LetsTalkBitcoin suggests it was first filed August 5.

It actually appears the patent application was filed first in 1999 and amended in 2003, and amended again more recently. So the ideas in the document are not particularly fresh, but are still intriguing as a look at how the bank viewed, and perhaps continues to view, anonymous electronic payments.

The basic process being described in the patent is a familiar one to users of PayPal or bitcoins:

A computer-implemented method of providing an anonymous payment from a mobile device to a payee device to enable an electronic payment between a payer and a payee without provision of an account number or name from the payer, the method comprising: storing payer information and instructions in a computer memory at a host server.

In the application, the payment technology is called Internet Pay Anyone (IPA) and the funds are stored in a Virtual Private Lockbox (VPL).

The application-writer’s description of the platform depicts the payments situation that continues to frustrate many bitcoin and mobile wallet enthusiasts today:

It is predicted that credit cards will be the dominant on-line point of sale (POS) payment choice for at least the next five years. While new Internet payment mechanisms have been rapidly emerging, consumers and merchants have been happily conducting a growing volume of commerce using basic credit card functionality. None of the emerging efforts to date have gotten more than a toehold in the market place and momentum continues to build in favor of credit cards.

So Chase expects cards to be the dominant online payment vehicle for the foreseeable future, but it isn’t taking any chances by filing for a patent. If this section was written in 1999, Chase was optimistic about digital payments in the late 1990s.

As for this new currency that JPM might someday launch, what should it be called? ZeroHedge suggests “Dimons.” But it seems we won’t be seeing them anytime soon.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism, which makes him quite old. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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