Bank of America (BoA), the second largest bank in the United States, currently holds the most blockchain tech patents in the world.  However, they have yet to implement any, and many are skeptical of the bank’s motives.  On October 30, BoA was awarded their most recent patent for a private key storage solution bringing their current tall to 50. This is extrodinary considering that the combined patents for tech giants IBM and Alibaba equal 171.

The Bank of America was even the first major U.S. bank in history to file for a Cryptocurrency Patent

They submitted their first patent for “wire transfers using cryptocurrency” in 2014. However, the bank obviously never made use of this patent, as the company has been highly disparaging of crypto itself.

Currently, the bank finds Bitcoin to be “fascinating,” with the potential to “become a major means of payment for e-commerce [and] a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers”. In May of this year, however, CIO Catherine Bessant called crypto “troubling.” She banned customers from purchasing it with BoA credit cards.

The inconsistency of such statements and actions is conflicting to say the least

However, it seems clear that BoA at least believes that blockchain will at some point catch on.  BoA research analyst Kash Rangan forecasts a $7 billion blockchain industry.

He even goes on to specify which companies he thinks will benefit the most from blockchain. These include Amazon, Zillow, and Lending Tree.

Former BoA senior VP Michael Wuehler has been critical of the bank

Therefore, he believes that all of these patents are simply a ruse to make BoA seem like a FinTech innovator. In August, he tweeted:

“My name is on 8 of the 50 Blockchain patents filed by BoA and from my perspective they are meaningless other than making for press releases and public perception of innovation”

Further Insights on BoA Patents

To Besset’s credit, she has more or less been up front about the patents.  The CB Insights Future of FinTech conference was in New York last June. Here, she said that the company didn’t want to fall behind the new wave of technology:

“While we’ve not found large-scale opportunities, we want to be ahead of it.”

Essentially, she’s being honest: they don’t want to use blockchain yet.  But they see it as being the new wave, and they want to prepare themselves.

 

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