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Banks expected to adopt new technologies rather than be overrun

People walk by the JP Morgan & Chase Co. building in New York October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New technology firms are battering all kinds of companies, but banks will remain as financial intermediaries, due to the regulations and duties governments have put on them, says a proponent of the technology behind the bitcoin cryptocurrency.

"Regulation keeps them in place. Regulation requires them to perform certain functions," said Mark Smith, chief executive of Symbiont.io, a startup that has emerged from Bitcoin 2.0 and MathMoney f(x) Inc to build a securities trading platform using blockchain technology like that behind bitcoin.

Smith predicted that big banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co, would adopt new technologies to cut costs for back offices that process loans and match buyers and sellers of securities.

"A massive amount of infrastructure just goes away," said Smith, who was speaking on Thursday in a panel discussion held by Thomson Reuters on innovation and disruption in financial services.

New competitors are coming into banking from Silicon Valley, JPMorgan's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, warned bank shareholders this year. But he also said JPMorgan had much to learn from them and might enter partnerships with some.

JPMorgan worked with Apple Inc on last year's launch of the Apple Pay application for making credit and debit card payments with smartphones.

Last month the bank said it would also operate a rival digital wallet called Chase Pay.

Later, Smith said his firm expected to sell tools to big banks for securities trading by customers. "We are a disrupter and an enabler as well," he added.

Another panel member, Sam Shrauger, senior vice president of digital solutions at card and payments company Visa Inc, said that while cash and paper check transactions give way to electronic messages, "that's not going to change the overarching way that we move money."

(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)