JPMorgan's Farooq: Blockchain will have a radical impact on some of our businesses

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase (JPM) doesn’t view blockchain as existential threat to its business.

“I would say blockchain will have a radical impact on some of our businesses because some businesses are fundamentally geared toward putting people together, providing the trust between parties,” said Umar Farooq, JPMorgan’s head of blockchain initiatives, told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief Andy Serwer at its All Markets Summit: Crytpo. “And some of those things will obviously radically change as blockchain becomes some of that underlying infrastructure that provides and distributes trust,” he added.

That said, Farooq believes there is an important role for more traditional banks in the crypto realm.

“People will find there is always a need for a trusted advisor in the mix. And whether that becomes a role of [us providing] the infrastructure or whether we become someone who facilitates the data exchange and the data layer and the standards, there will always be a role. I don’t think it’s an existential threat in the short term.”

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, has been embracing the technology in a major way. According to Farooq, “Every line of business” at the bank now has blockchain experts. It’s become so pervasive that on the bank’s internal messaging system, the blockchain virtual room has more than 1,500 members.

Umar Farooq, JPMorgan’s Head of Blockchain, speaks with Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief Andy Serwer at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto on February 8, 2018. Getty Images/ Eugene Gologursky

Farooq, a lawyer and computer scientist by background, joined JPMorgan in 2009. He had most recently been the head of commercial investment banking and the CFO for technology, operations, and control before being asked to head up the firm’s blockchain efforts about two-and-a-half years ago.

In its nascent stages, Farooq’s team was small, but not anymore.  “A lot of businesses are coming to us saying, ‘I have a problem, and it kind of smells/feels like something blockchain could help with,’ Farooq said.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo FinanceFollow her on Twitter.