JPMorgan Bets on Blockchain-Powered Mortgages, QR Codes

The massive bank has invested $100 million in Figure, a fintech focused on blockchain mortgages and QR code payments.

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Need to Know

  • JPMorgan has invested $100 million in Figure to help with conforming and jumbo mortgages.
  • Figure, a home equity and mortgaging fintech that is powered by blockchain technology, saw mortgage lending increase nearly 50% month over month in the fourth quarter of last year.
  • Figure is also responsible for Figure Pay, a service that enables retailers to use QR codes at checkout.
  • To date, Figure has closed almost $1.5 billion in financing from various banks and other lenders.

Analysis

Online lending fintech Figure has received a $100 million investment from JP Morgan, the two companies disclosed earlier this month.

Figure, which uses blockchain tech to issue loans, mainly home equity loans and mortgages, will use the JP Morgan cash infusion to help it issue conforming and jumbo mortgages. Figure saw mortgage lending increase by almost 50% month over month in the fourth quarter of last year.

“This facility with J.P. Morgan will help us continue to innovate in the lending space,” Mike Cagney, CEO and co-founder of Figure, said in a statement. “We hope to build on our 2020 momentum, both in volume and in bringing blockchain into the mortgage market.”

Figure, which was founded in 2018, has received nearly $1.5 billion in financing to date. The fintech currently has more than 20,000 members, for which it has unlocked more than $1 billion in equity using its Provenance blockchain. In addition to mortgage refinancing and home equity loans, Figure offers personal loans and asset management services to individuals, and cap table management and capital raising tools, among other services, for institutions.

Figure’s quick rise and rapid expansion will continue beyond the JP Morgan investment, as the company is also preparing to launch a blockchain-based payments tool, Figure Pay, which uses QR codes at checkout points. In November, Cagney described Figure Pay as “a blockchain rail and a digital wallet” that the company thinks is more cost-efficient than traditional payments processors.

The launch of Figure Pay has prompted Figure to investigate a national banking charter, as the company looks into providing financial services to individuals that Cagney refers to as “underbanked”: those who do not have sufficient traditional credit histories to qualify for loans. “What we’re doing is looking at things like transaction history and geolocation, and other factors that will give us some confidence to underwrite credit into that demographic and help them build a history,” Cagney said in November of last year.

JP Morgan launched its own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, in October of last year. The bank has long shown an interest in blockchain tech, having partnered with the Bank of Canada in 2018 to run blockchain tests for the eventual development of Quorum, which JP Morgan sold to Consensys in August of last year. At the same time as the launch of JPM Coin, JPMorgan also unveiled Onyx, the proprietary blockchain unit that now oversees JPM Coin.

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