JP Morgan Buys Health-Care Payments Firm InstaMed in the Bank’s Biggest Acquisition Since the Financial Crisis

J.P. Morgan Chase is buying medical payments technology firm InstaMed to push more deeply into the $3.5 trillion market for U.S. health-care spending.

The bank agreed on Friday to purchase the Philadelphia-based company of about 300 employees that processed $94 billion in transactions last year, according to the two companies.

J.P. Morgan is paying more than $500 million for the business, making it the lender’s largest takeover since buying Bear Stearns and the bank assets of Washington Mutual in 2008, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The move show that the nation’s largest bank views the fast-changing world of payments as a battleground worthy of aggressive wagers. When it comes to keeping pace with emerging technology in lending or investing, J.P. Morgan has typically partnered with fintech firms like OnDeck or used its own engineers to build solutions like the brokerage app YouInvest.

But payments, being transformed by global technology giants and surging due to the rise of e-commerce, offers a rare growth opportunity for banks. In fact, one of J.P. Morgan’s only other sizable acquisitions of the past decade was its 2017 purchase of WePay, a competitor to PayPal and Stripe. (That year, J.P. Morgan also weighed a bid for Worldpay, a merchant acquirer, before a competitor bought it for $9.9 billion.)

So last year, J.P. Morgan surveyed the health-care landscape for ways to ramp up investment, according to Takis Georgakopoulos, the bank’s head of wholesale payments. The decision was based on the vast size and complexity of the market: U.S. health spending, pegged at $3.5 trillion in 2017, is projected to reach $6 trillion by 2027, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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