Bank of America, the second largest financial institution of the United States, after JP Morgan Chase, which is known for publicly criticising the cryptocurrencies, has the most cryptocurrency and blockchain technology related patents. With more patents, the bank is trying to appear as a progressive company in the fintech community.
Recently Bank of America added one more cryptocurrency related patent in its collection of over 50 applications in the same field. In March 2014, Bank of America filed the first patent and became the first major retail bank in the United States or possibly worldwide to file such kind of patent. Bank of America was also the first bank to start Bitcoin coverage in 2013. “Bitcoin: a first assessment” was the first report which was compiled by the strategist David Woo, Vadim Iaralov, and Ian Gordon. The papers argued that
“Bitcoin could become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers. As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth.”
In 2015, the Bank received its first crypto related patent. After that Bank of America (BofA) joined the R3 consortium of over 200 members to develop the different blockchain solutions. In the year 2014, the bank filed ten patents while in 2016 BofA filed around 20 patents. In an interview, the chief operations and technology officer of BofA, Catherine Bessant said that
“As a technologist, the technology is fascinating. We have tried to stay on the forefront. I think we have somewhere around 15 patents; most people would be surprised at Bank of America with patents in the blockchain or cryptocurrency space.”
In June 2018 with 45 live patents, Bank of America became the first organisation in the world to have that much of crypto-related patents. BofA left behind technology-oriented players such as Alibaba and IBM.
According to Catherine, it is important to have blockchain related patents. Though currently, financial institutions in America are not using blockchain technology actively but it is crucial to reserve the spot in the field of blockchain technology before we know the commercial application of blockchain technology. In future, it will give the competitive advantage to the bank. Catherine said that
“We’ve got under 50 patents in the blockchain/distributed ledger space […] While we’ve not found large-scale opportunities, we want to be ahead of it, we want to be prepared.”