B of A Readying Blockchain Patents: Report
Bank of America is preparing to submit 20 blockchain-related patents any day now to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, CNBC reported this week, citing a company spokesperson.
The bank has been intrigued by blockchain technology for a couple years, technology and operations chief Cathy Bessant said at a CNBC event in Davos last week, the report said. But the bank is still uncertain how it would apply the technology to its business. Right now B of A just wants to stay ahead of the curve.
"For us it's a balance between not wanting to be Neanderthal but not wanting to put something out in a commercial application" that is not ready for it, Bessant said in a videotaped interview that accompanied the CNBC report.
Banks used to have almost no involvement with the U.S. patent system, but recently some large institutions, like Bank of America and JPMorgan, have begun locking down intellectual-property rights. The effort appears to be aimed at fending off patent trolls, and it raises fresh questions about which activities are legitimate for financial institutions.July 2
Major cloud, consulting and software providers like Microsoft and Deloitte are plugging "blockchain as a service" for financial institutions that want to experiment with this technology without making huge investments.December 8
The latest blockchain technology initiative has IBM, Digital Asset Holdings, R3 and other tech companies working with banks, Swift, the London Stock Exchange and the Linux foundation to jointly create open-source software meant to be used to quickly bring new blockchain software to market.December 17
B of A had filed 15 blockchain patents as of December, Bessant said. They include a cryptocurrency wire transfer system and a cryptocurrency transaction payment system, according to the patent office's website.
The bank did not comment Friday in response to queries by American Banker.
Most other financial institutions have been leery of digital currency but intrigued by the potential use of blockchain, a related technology, to settle trades in real-time.
Goldman Sachs is the only other bank known to have filed a blockchain patent. The patent office publishes applications 18 months after their filing. Goldman is seeking to patent its own cryptocurrency that would guarantee instant execution and settlement of trades.