Nine of the world's biggest banks (JP Morgan, State Street, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, BBVA and Commonwealth Bank of Australia) are working on a blockchain solution to reduce inefficiencies in asset exchange. Bitcoin currently provides the largest blockchain on which asset exchanges can be encoded via BTC transactions.
There are also reasons why bitcoin is not ideal for these banks. Bitcoin cannot currently handle more than 7 transactions per second due to a 1MB block size limit, and it is possible to flood the network with small transactions that overtaxes nodes by increasing the mempool and eating up memory. In addition, there remains the possibility that a mining pool could have enough hashing power that they could jeopardize transaction security. Banks also have specific needs which include compliance with financial regulations, and it is likely that a blockchain of their design could better suit them.
Bitcoin is an adaptive technology, and the software continues to be updated. It is likely that limits to its usefulness will be overcome in time. However, to the extent that these limits prevent banks from implementing the solutions they seek, bitcoin represents a less attractive choice. As an example, developer Jeff Garziik recently commented that Fidelity Investments has developed software that they cannot test because the needs are beyond bitcoin's current capacity.
A possible alternative solution for this group of banks would to be to create a non-decentralized blockchain of their own. One of the critiques of such private blockchains is that they would lack bitcoin's security. However, there are solutions to this problem that might be adequate for the banks' needs. One such solution would to be to use a bitcoin-like software, but to license mining. Although this type of network might not offer the same kind of security that bitcoin does, it could represent an improvement on current database-type security, and have the added benefit of future development guided by the banks.
The use case that these banks are seeking, one of a secure open ledger on which to imprint asset exchanges, is not one where bitcoin has the clear advantage.
If bitcoin does not evolve to reduce friction for the use cases these financial services are interested in, it seems likely that bitcoin will not be used by them.
Given that most people are not concerned with, or properly informed about, the advantages of a cryptocurrency token secured by a truly decentralized network, and given that established payment processors will likely be more attracted to a development body which they can lobby by traditional means, it is possible that a token produced by a banking conglomerate could compete with BTC as a digital store of value and popular medium of exchange.
Currently, this is bitcoin's game to lose.