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JPMorgan Chase CEO demonizes crypto while banking corruption thrives

By Arnold Mutunga

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

Once again, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has come out guns blazing against cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, saying he would shut it down if he were the government. 

The head of the global investment bank made these remarks during a congressional hearing of the US Senate Banking Committee. Dimon reiterated that he has always been deeply opposed to crypto and bitcoin, stressing that it is used for criminal activities.

Dimon demonizes crypto, bitcoin

Dimon doubled down on his skepticism for crypto and bitcoin during the annual Wall Street oversight hearing in December. While responding to a question put forward by US Senator Elizabeth Warren on why cryptocurrencies are the preferential medium of transaction for criminals, Dimon said,

“I’ve always been deeply opposed to crypto, bitcoin, etc. You pointed out the true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, anti-money laundering, tax avoidance.”

He proceeded to further state, “That is a use case because it is somewhat anonymous, not fully, and because you can move money instantaneously because it doesn’t go through all these systems built up over many years: Know Your Customer [KYC], sanctions, OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] — they can bypass all of that.”

To top it off, he categorically stated, “If I were the government, I’d close it down.”

In a rare show of solidarity with the banker, Warren agreed with these sentiments, stating, “Today’s terrorists have a new way to get around the Bank Secrecy Act — cryptocurrency. I’m not usually holding hands with the CEOs of multibillion-dollar banks, but this is a matter of national security. It’s time for Congress to act.”

These remarks come as no surprise as Dimon has previously called out cryptocurrencies. Previously, he referred to them as decentralized Ponzi schemes and said bitcoin was a hyped-up fraud. According to the JPMorgan Chase CEO, bitcoin is a pet rock that has been hyped in extraordinary fashion. While making these remarks last January, Dimon expressed concerns about bitcoin’s limited supply. He stated that its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, could easily remove its 21 million supply cap.

Dimon has also previously warned investors to be wary of investing in cryptocurrencies, arguing that they have no intrinsic value and investors could end up losing their money.

Which way Dimon?

Dimon’s recent remarks are in line with his strong opposition to crypto and bitcoin but are not consistent with the actions of the bank he leads. JPMorgan Chase is a big user of blockchain technology and has harnessed its ingenuity to power its record-keeping service, JPM Coin. Evidently, his distaste for digital currencies has its limits given the bank is making significant forays into blockchain and continually exploring ways to leverage the technology into its products and services.

The JPM executive has also previously warmed up to the idea of stablecoins. During the annual congressional hearing in September 2022, he stated that they would be suitable with proper regulation. Dimon went as far to say, “There’d be nothing wrong with a stablecoin, which is like a money market fund, properly regulated.”

Considering the statement was made during the same occasion in which he referred to crypto as a Ponzi scheme, it becomes difficult to reconcile the executive’s opinions and actions.

Crypto community hits back

The crypto community has been quick to hit back at Jamie Dimon on social media platform X, citing Dimon’s inadequate knowledge of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and how the underlying technology works. 

Some crypto proponents stated that if the executive thinks he can shut bitcoin down then he doesn’t understand it. Some commentators also referred to Dimon’s previous misconceptions like bitcoin’s supply cap to indicate the banker’s limited understanding of how the digital asset code works.

One issue that really riled the crypto community was Dimon’s statement that crypto was mainly used by criminals for nefarious activities. 

Vaneck’s director of digital asset strategy, Gabor Gurbacs, was quick to respond to Dimon’s comments singling out the bank penalties issued due to its violations. Through a post on X, Gurbacs argued, “Since 2000, regulators fined banks 7,400+ times totaling to fines of $380+ Billion. Banks should stay silent.”

He added, “JPMorgan Chase parent company is the second most penalized financial institution with close to $40 Billion in fines for 272 violations since 2000. Jamie Dimon is in no position to criticize Bitcoin with this sort of track record. They should start the hearing with these stats.”

Based on these stats, Gurbacs concluded that “either banking is criminal by definition or the rules are broken. The crypto space looks like a nunnery by contrast.”

Other X users called Dimon a hypocrite and expressed concerns about the rot in the banking industry, yet they chose to point fingers at cryptocurrencies. The readers also added context to Dimon’s sentiment stating, “Less than 1% of the trillions transacted annually in crypto are illicit. The UN estimates that annually between 2% to 5% of global GDP ($800 billion – $2 trillion) is used for illicit activities and money laundering through the traditional banking system and cash.”

These stats show the extent of corruption in the traditional fiat currency system and their constant attacks on crypto and bitcoin as a deflection of their illegal activities. As for James Dimon, the JPMorgan Chase CEO, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

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Arnold Mutunga

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