Investment banking giant JPMorgan has announced a new Payments Innovation Lab to explore the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) or blockchain in its operations. Located in Athens, the lab will be the main arm of the investment bank’s push into digital assets.
The lab will be manned by a team of 50 persons versed in the areas of cryptography, artificial intelligence (AI), and DLT, according to its disclosure. The Payments Innovation Lab will cater to the needs of Onyx, a pioneering attempt by the bank to offer next-generation payment rails for digital assets.
“We want to stay at the apex of payments innovation, and our new location in Athens will be a key nerve center for our cutting-edge payments innovation work,” noted Takis Georgakopoulos, Global Head of JP Morgan Payments.
Currently, the bank is in active discussions with local agents to secure a prime location for the expansion into Greece. Already, JPMorgan has confirmed that it is shopping for a head of the new division, while applications for other roles have been thrown open with a preference for local talent.
“Our investment in a new office and local, highly skilled talent is a testament to JP Morgan’s long-commitment to Greece,” said Stelios Papadopoulos, a senior country officer of the bank.
The new outfit is not the first time JPMorgan is doing business in Greece as the investment banks had opened offices in Athens and Piraeus dating all back to 1968. The bank has been providing financial services to some of the largest firms in the country, and pundits are looking at the establishment of a DLT lab in Greece as a move that will only strengthen the ties between both parties.
JPMorgan and digital assets
JPMorgan is no stranger to digital assets, but like other Wall Street firms, it showed a bit of skepticism toward the new asset class. However, the bank has latched on in recent years, making significant progress in the ecosystem.
“Over time, we think tokenizing U.S. Treasuries or money market funds shares, for example, means these could all potentially be used as collateral in DeFi pools,” Tyrone Lobban, head of Onyx and digital assets at the bank, said. “The overall goal is to bring these trillions of dollars of assets into DeFi so that we can use these new mechanisms for trading, borrowing [and] lending, but with the scale of institutional assets.”
Despite the bank’s ambitious goals, it maintains that consumer protection for the whole ecosystem should be given priority to prevent events that can threaten the survival of the ecosystem.
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