JPMorgan is considering spinning off its blockchain project Quorum as an independent entity.
Developed inhouse by JPMorgan using the Ethereum protocol, Quorum is deisgned to support any application requiring high speed and high throughput processing of private transactions within a permissioned group of known participants.
In October, the bank announced plans to pilot the application of cross-border interbank payments, inviting other banks to join a newly-formed Interbank Information Network (IIN) alliance to try out the platform. ANZ and the Australian arm of Royal Bank of Canada were the first to sign up.
The plans to spin off Quorum, first reported by the Financial Times, are still in the early stages, according to a source. The bank - which also quit the R3 blockchain platform last year - has denied that the move represents a step back from the project.
Commenting on the report, the bank said: "We continue to believe distributed ledger technology will play a transformative role in business, which is why we are actively building multiple blockchain solutions. Quorum has become an extremely successful enterprise platform even beyond financial services, and we’re excited about its potential.”
The statement has failed to quell speculation that big banks are re-assessing the short-term value of distributed ledger technology as the massive operational overhauls required to implement working applications become clear.
Earlier this month, banking co-operative Swift reported back on its own experiments in applying blockchain technology to Nostro reconciliations and noted that translating the proof-of-concept into a workable product would require significant re-engineering. For instance, all account servicers would first need to migrate from batch to real-time liquidity reporting and processing, and back office applications would need to be upgraded to feed the platform with real-time updates.
The tests also showed that further progress is needed on the DLT technology itself. For example, just 528 channels were required in the PoC to ensure Nostro accounts would only be stored on the nodes of their account servicers and owners. In order to move to full production, more than 100,000 channels would need to be established and maintained, covering all existing Nostro relationships, presenting significant operational challenges.