Dimon bashes bitcoin again; SoFi withdraws bank application

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There he goes again: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon doubled down on his criticism of bitcoin, which a few weeks ago he called a “fraud.” On Friday he went even further. “I don’t personally see any value in something that has no actual value,” he said at an Institute of International Finance conference in Washington. “I could care less what bitcoin trades for, how it trades, why it trades, who trades it. If you’re stupid enough to buy it you will pay the price for it one day.”

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink echoed that sentiment, likening the price of bitcoin to an “index of money laundering.”

But that didn’t stop bitcoin from hitting a record high above $5,200 over the weekend, and a prominent hedge fund manager predicted it could double from that level within a year.

Just because he doesn’t like bitcoin doesn’t mean Dimon isn’t “enamored with the technology that underpins it and other virtual currencies.” On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports, JPM, Royal Bank of Canada and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group are expected to announce their next pilot program to use blockchain technology to enable faster, more secure transfer of cross-border payments. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, American Banker

Wall Street Journal
Not now: Social Finance said Friday it is withdrawing its application to open a bank, following the departure of CEO Michael Cagney, his wife, Chief Technology Officer June Ou, and several other executives in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal at the online lender.

“With SoFi’s leadership in transition, we’re withdrawing our application with the FDIC for now,” a SoFi spokesman said, adding that a bank charter “remains an attractive option when the time is right.”

Moving on up: Fueled by “breakneck growth in both e-commerce and mobile money transfers,” PayPal has quietly climbed the list of financial services companies with the biggest market capitalization as its share price has jumped nearly 75% so far this year. The payments company is now worth about $83 billion, compared to the $47 billion it was valued at when it was spun off from eBay two years ago. Last week, the payments company leaped over American Express in market cap and is now gaining on Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Falling behind: Wells Fargo’s troubles are just getting worse. “As other large banks were all reporting solid quarterly earnings [last] week, Wells Fargo disappointed,” as its third-quarter net income fell 19%. While some of that was due to a $1 billion charge for a mortgage-related regulatory settlement, “regulatory fines are far from the only issue dogging the bank,” the paper notes, as both revenue and loan volume fell.

New York Times
Trapped: It’s “unfortunate” that Equifax has a dominant position in supplying credit reports for consumers who apply for a mortgage, columnist Gretchen Morgenson writes.

“Like it or not, when you apply for a home mortgage or to refinance an existing loan, Equifax will be a part of the process,” she notes. “That’s because, of the three major credit reporting agencies, only Equifax has a division, Equifax Mortgage Solutions, that supplies lenders with what is known as a merged credit report. While other credit-reporting companies can provide a merged report, Equifax is a major go-to source for that information.”

“Even more troubling,” she says is an arrangement with Freddie Mac that gives Equifax “an even tighter grip on the business of providing credit information.”

“A fiat currency is when a government says, this is your legal tender, you have to give it and accept it, and of course the central bank can misuse it and inflate it. But what is the use case for bitcoin? You’re in Venezuela, North Korea. You’re a criminal. Great product!” — JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

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Bitcoin Blockchain Cyber security Jamie Dimon JPMorgan Chase SoFi PayPal Wells Fargo Equifax