A number of incumbent banks are known to be developing new digital-first products in a bid to keep the new wave of challenger banks at bay and now it appears that the latest to make that move is J.P. Morgan.
According to sources, the investment bank has begun recruiting for a secretive skunkworks project within London’s booming fintech industry. Very few details are known about what exactly J.P. Morgan plans to build, although TechCrunch understands the bank is busy hiring high level developers with full-stack and cloud-based dev skills for the new project, along with other personnel.
One source tells me that interested candidates are being asked to sign an NDA, and that the project is still in its formative stages. They say the plan is to essentially build a startup within a corporation that will be run independently and entirely separately from J.P. Morgan’s existing technology and businesses. The bank is only hiring for permanent positions rather than contractors in order to keep it “secret,” another source tells me. J.P. Morgan declined to comment.
Meanwhile, for the few people I’ve spoken to who have heard about the project there’s speculation that J.P. Morgan is developing a competitor to “Marcus,” the digital bank launched by Goldman Sachs that focuses on savings and offers a competitive interest rate. That would also put it up against challenger banks such as Atom, Tandem and savings marketplace Raisin.
However, one source tells me they’ve heard that J.P. Morgan’s skunkworks project could in fact be a much more ambitious cloud-based banking platform on which numerous products can be launched. That would be more akin to a core banking SaaS platform or “AWS for Banking,” along the lines of Starling’s core banking product or Germany’s solarisBank or London’s 11:FS Foundry.