JPMorgan CEO Dimon joins Trump in Bitcoin shift. More critics will soften in ETF ‘afterglow’

JPMorgan CEO Dimon joins Trump in Bitcoin shift. More critics will soften in ETF ‘afterglow’
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said Bitcoin is like cigarettes, but defended people's right to buy them this week. Credit: Shutterstock
  • Bitcoin sceptic Jamie Dimon defended investors’ right to buy Bitcoin on Tuesday.
  • Former US President Donald Trump also made positive comments about crypto this week.
  • More critics will change their tune as ETFs go mainstream, a market watcher says.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon joined former President Donald Trump in softening his stance on Bitcoin.

”I don’t know what the Bitcoin itself is for, but I defend your right to buy a cigarette, I’ll defend your right to buy a Bitcoin,” Reuters quoted Dimon as saying during the Australian Financial Review business summit on Tuesday.

While Dimon also repeated his view that the cryptocurrency is linked to criminal activities like fraud and terrorism, his defence contrasts with some of his recent barbs.

Dimon called Bitcoin a “pet rock” in January, and told Congress in December that he’d “close it down” if he were in government.

Regulation expert Sean Tuffy says to expect more pivots from Bitcoin critics amid a “regulatory afterglow” from the approval of US Bitcoin ETFs.

He also noted that along with Dimon, Trump also made more approving comments on the cryptocurrency.

“The softening is consistent with the mainstreaming of Bitcoin and its rise as ‘The Good Crypto™’ in the public imagination” Tuffy told DL News.

“You really can’t unring the bell. I suspect that some critics will continue to soften their position on Bitcoin.”

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The SEC approved 10 spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds in January, which has been linked to the cryptocurrency climbing 85% this year, thundering past a new all-time high of $73,000.

BlackRock is one of the firms that launched an ETF in January. Its CEO Larry Fink has also changed his tune about Bitcoin after labelling it a means for money laundering in 2020.

Cryptocurrencies are increasingly becoming a hot button issue in the US ahead of the November election, potentially determining the outcome in swing states.

‘I’ll defend your right to buy a Bitcoin’

Dimon previously compared Bitcoin to cigarettes back in 2021 at a conference, saying: “I don’t think you should smoke cigarettes either.”

Despite the billionaire’s criticism, JPMorgan’s blockchain unit, Onyx, has grown.

Its headcount had reached 300 employees up from only 100 or so three years ago, DL News reported in December.

The investment bank doesn’t offer crypto trading services for clients, but it does clear Bitcoin futures and offers access to crypto funds in its wealth management division.

JPMorgan is also a so-called authorised participant that plays a crucial role in the trading of ETFs, meaning it manages the creation and redemption of ETF shares, as DL News reported in January

Jane Street and Virtu Financial are also so-called APs.

Trump’s shift

Trump has softened his stance against Bitcoin after labelling it as a scam in 2021.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Trump said that Bitcoin is now “an additional form of currency.”

“I do little things with [crypto] sometimes for fun and make money with it. But I have fun with it, too,” the former president said.

Trump added that he hadn’t bought any Bitcoin himself and that he doesn’t “want people leaving the dollar.”

This is not the first change of pace made by Trump. During a February town hall event, he said he could ‘live with it,” but that Bitcoin needed more regulation.

Trump has also joined crypto-supporters like Florida governor Ron DeSantis in criticising the creation of a Federal Reserve-run digital dollar.

He has also launched a string of NFT collections over the years.

Even so, Tuffy said: “I’m always a little hesitant to read too much into Trump changing positions on things.”

JPMorgan declined to comment.

Eric Johansson is DL News’ news editor. Sebastian Sinclair is a markets correspondent for DL News. Tyler Pearson is a junior markets correspondent for DL News.

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