Whatever you think of Bitcoin -- and I'm not sure I understand it myself -- there can be little doubt that it is a threat to Dimon.
In an essay published Monday by The New York Times, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen cited his partner Chris Dixon in explaining the potential attractiveness of Bitcoin to merchants.
Let's say you sell electronics online. Profit margins in those businesses are usually under 5 percent, which means conventional 2.5 percent payment fees consume half the margin. That's money that could be reinvested in the business, passed back to consumers or taxed by the government. Of all of those choices, handing 2.5 percent to banks to move bits around the Internet is the worst possible choice. Another challenge merchants have with payments is accepting international payments. If you are wondering why your favorite product or service isn't available in your country, the answer is often payments.
It is obvious enough why banks would resist a change of this kind. And as Andreessen makes clear, the more people consider Bitcoin to be a legitimate way to pay for things, the more likely it will be for the currency to succeed. It is to the credit of Wells Fargo (WFC) that the bank has chosen to keep an open mind. It will host a discussion on the topic next week, its second this month.
Dimon may ultimately prove to be right when he says Bitcoin is "a terrible store of value," but let's at least be clear about one thing: he is hardly a disinterested observer.
-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.