"Think of it as the foundation of an enterprise mainnet."Tha's how Christine Moy, head of JPMorgan's newly rebranded Liink blockchain-based banking network, described its aspirations towards decentralization in the realm of big business.
The revamped Liink, which is based on a fork of Ethereum, is more of a "decentralized network," said Moy, and less like a "central command product." As such, Liink now invites its 400-plus financial institutions (including 25 of the largest 50 banks) to start building on top of the blockchain-based platform.
"Liink participants have the ability to build applications on the network, and in doing so are able to spotlight their local expertise with global reach," said Moy. "If a Liink participant has specific expertise around payments in a particular region or currency, for example, it has the opportunity to build an application and deploy it on Liink to make it available to the network."
Formerly known as the drably named Interbank Information Network, Liink was designed to connect banks in a peer-to-peer fashion and help them remove the pain points from cross-border payments and other functions.
While Liink is not open-source like Quorum or, say, R3’s Corda network, JPMorgan is encouraging collaboration within the network and also expanding it beyond banks.
"The focus has been on building a peer-to-peer network for cross-border payments, thus the original name, Interbank Information Network, but we are now also incorporating corporates and fintechs into the Liink ecosystem as well," said Moy.
JPM’s next step?
JPMorgan, which is famous in the blockchain-based technology world for creating the Ethereum-based Quorum network, released a flurry of news Tuesday, the headline being that its wholesale banking digital currency JPM Coin is now live. But also that all Quorum-based services now fall under the new Onyx brand.
"Liink as a new brand comes at a pivotal time, as we look to re-architect how money, information and assets move across the globe," Umar Farooq, CEO of Onyx, said in a statement.
On the subject of JPM Coin complementing the Liink network, Moy said:
"The Liink network is live for peer-to-peer information transfer. JPM Coin is obviously value transfer. As part of the broader Onyx organization, we are focused on a coherent client product experience."
It’s a lingering question: How might JPMorgan’s various blockchain services be combined into a greater sum than their parts? JPMorgan declined to comment further.
As well as rebranding, Liink introduces a couple of new features: Confirm, which allows for the validation of account information prior to initiating a payment, and Format, which helps ensure a payment message accurately conforms to country- and currency-specific requirements.
The Confirm application matches data requesters, looking to validate account owners and FX particulars, with data responders, who are incentivized to help because they can earn a cut of fees for validating that information.
"This is a blockchain-based, multi-party network so you have the ability to get a response from multiple different banks on the network, or for that matter tech companies," said Moy. "Enabling our Liink participants to potentially create new revenue streams, we think, is a differentiator from other offerings where a central party controls the flow."
All told, it looks like that the blockchain-based network of JPM’s Liink is shaping up to be a potential SWIFT killer.
"Liink’s original use cases were modeled by JPMorgan for banks," said Moy. "We’ve paid special attention to some of the specific mechanisms of how we would design this application as a result," she said, adding that the aim of creating this blockchain-based network is not to replace SWIFT but rather to complement it.
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