According to news from the American Banker — citing a recent study by Envision IP, a law firm that specializes in intellectual property rights — Bank of America holds the largest number of blockchain patents when compared to other big banks and even technology companies. Coming in second is International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and Mastercard, which have 27 blockchain patents each.
“Based on what’s publicly out there, the technology sector hasn’t embraced blockchain as much as the financial services industry,” Maulin Shah, patent attorney for Envision IP, said in an interview with the magazine. Mark Pipitone, a spokesman for Bank of America, told the American Banker that the FI actually has 47 blockchain patents, but declined to comment further.
Bank of America’s interest in blockchain technology differs from its public stance on cryptocurrencies. Recently, the company’s Merrill Lynch unit banned employees from offering bitcoin futures from CME and Cboe Global Markets to its brokerage clients. The report noted that while big banks have traditionally been less active when it comes to getting patents, during the course of the past two years, they have been picking up the pace.
Other companies that were aggressive with blockchain patents include Fidelity Investments, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank), Accenture and Dell, all of which landed in the top 10. Banks are eyeing the technology, which enables cryptocurrencies, to speed up trading, to enhance and improve recordkeeping and to reduce the complexities of back-end functions. Surprisingly, big tech companies — including Google, Microsoft and Oracle — haven’t received a lot of blockchain patents, although the applications are made public 18 months after they’re filed, which means tech companies may have gotten more active on that front as well.