Despite the refusal by Bank of America to assist customers interested in making investments in Bitcoin, the second-largest bank in the United States by assets is among the leading patent-holders of the blockchain technology in the financial sector. So far Bank of America holds in its possession blockchain patents numbering 43. Blockchain is the ledger technology that is at the core of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and is used in the verification and recording of transactions.
Per a study conducted by EnvisionIP, a law firm based in New York which focuses on analyzing intellectual property, the 43 patents are the biggest number held by a technology firm or a major bank.
“Based on what’s publicly out there, the technology sector hasn’t embraced blockchain as much as the financial-services industry,” said Maulin Shah, EnvisionIP’s managing attorney, in an interview.
Mastercard and International Business Machines tied in the second position with a total of 27 patents each. IBM has identified the blockchain technology as well as artificial intelligence as segments that will be crucial to its prospects for future growth. The study conducted by EnvisionIP only counted patents and applications that have been issued. Issuance of patents typically occurs approximately 18 months after the filing of an application.
Relatively banks have been less active and aggressive with regards to the pursuit of patents but this has changed in the last two years. During this period the banks have collaborated with examiners from the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) with a view to educating examiners concerning financial services.
The study conducted by EnvisionIP shows that approximately 1,045 blockchain-related applications or patents have been filed in the United States by a total of 478 owners. Around 60% of those patents were filed by blockchain-specific firms such as cryptocurrency exchanges. Some of the well-known names who featured in the top ten list of blockchain patent holders include Dell, Accenture, Dominion Bank and Fidelity Investments. The study revealed that technology firms such as Oracle, Microsoft, and Google have not been issued with many blockchain-related patents though that could change with time.
It is understood that the blockchain technology could have a huge impact on the world’s financial system since banks could use it with a view to simplifying back-end functions, improving record-keeping and speeding up trading. The chief executive officer of Mastercard, Ajay Banga, last year revealed that the financial services firm was testing the technology with a view to facilitating payments between business organizations.