It seems that every day we get news that a leading financial organization is getting involved in the bitcoin and blockchain space. Last week it was the Australian Securities Exchange; the week before that it was the Chinese government; yesterday, Greg Medcraft, the head of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (Iosco), weighed in on blockchain adoption. Today, the trend continues. We’ve just learnt that the Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) has filed for a fresh batch of patents in the blockchain space.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the matter, of course. Back in September the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a list of 19 patents filed in the cryptocurrency space – 10 of which listed Bank of America Corporation as the filing applicant. Some of the stand out filings include a Real-Time Conversion System, an Offline Vault Storage System, a Risk Detection System and a Transaction Validation System. None of the patents have yet been granted (at least as far as we are aware) and there is generally a delay of 18 months before the USPTO reports filed patents – meaning the Bank of America Corporation likely filed for these September reported patents as early as January 2014, which, most reading will know, coincides with bitcoin’s to-date price peak. You can see the full list here.
Exactly what the new filings cover has not yet been revealed (we’re looking in to it so check back for an update) but we know that the corporation has filed for a total of 15 patents, including the ten that we have remarked upon already, and intends to file for a further 20 patents before the end of the month.
In short, Bank of America is running full pace into blockchain technology – at least, from a speculative standpoint. The company doesn’t yet have any commercial applications in place, and the assumption is that its actions are as preventative as they are aggressive – by this I mean the patents are filed to ensure the BoA doesn’t get left out in the cold if blockchain technology really takes hold. A statement from Catherine Bessant, the chief operations and technology office at Bank of America, lends credence to this assumption:
Blockchain’s very intriguing and for us it’s a balance between not wanting to be Neanderthal but not wanting to put something out in a commercial application where the commercial application is still very unclear as a technologist, the technology is fascinating… (It’s) very important in the intellectual property world to reserve our spot even before we know what the commercial application might be.
So what’s the takeaway here? Well, that giants of the finance space are taking notice of bitcoin and blockchain, and further, taking action to ensure they stake their claim if and when it takes off. Additionally, and interestingly, the patent filings show that this is not a recent thing, with BoA getting involved more than two years ago. As Bessant states, the commercial application of these patents, and others filed, remains unclear. One thing is certain, however – there is some real momentum behind bitcoin and its underlying technology at the moment, and it doesn’t look like things are set to slow down any time soon.