On October 30, Bank of America (BofA) added yet another cryptocurrency-related patent to its collection of more than 50 applications filed within the same field.
The second-largest bank in the US has been leading in the informal blockchain patent race, sidestepping such players as IBM and Alibaba. However, that does not mean that BofA is being bullish — the company has been publicly criticizing cryptocurrencies, relying on patents mostly to appear progressive in the fintech community.
Brief history of BofA’s filing crypto-related patents
The bank filed its first blockchain-related patent back in March 2014, and it was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — the agency that awards copyrights on inventions in the country — in September 2015. Dubbed “Wire Transfers Using Cryptocurrency,” it didn’t mention the word “blockchain” per se, but described a system where funds are sent between accounts using cryptocurrencies’ underlying technology.
It appeared to be the first crypto-related application from a major retail bank in the U.S., and possibly worldwide. It does not seem particularly surprising that BofA was the first among its kind to claim such a patent, given that it was also one of the first banks to initiate coverage of Bitcoin in 2013, when it published a report compiled by strategists David Woo, Ian Gordon and Vadim Iaralov. Entitled “Bitcoin: a first assessment,” the paper argued:
“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