Industry heavyweights in both China and the United States are topping the charts of blockchain-related patent applications, according to the research by iPR Daily, a media channel, focusing on intellectual property.
The report claims that Chinese retail and internet giant Alibaba barely edges US tech titan IBM, with 90 and 89 patent applications on distributed ledger technology. MasterCard, Bank of America and People’s Bank of China (PBC) complete the top 5 with 80, 53 and 44 applications respectively.
The case of PBC is particularly interesting, having in mind the harsh policy towards virtual currencies by the Chinese government. The regulators have imposed a total ban on cryptocurrencies and ICOs and have even moved to ban social media channels, related to the industry. However, judging from the number of PBC patents, Chinese regulators obviously see the potential of blockchain tech. The Digital Currency Lab, a subdivision within PBC, has filed more than 40 patent applications in its first year of operation.
The researchers claim to have gathered data as of August 10th from patent databases in China, United States, Japan, South Korea and various European states as well as International Patent System from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Other notable companies with 20 or more blockchain-related patent applications include Walmart, Google, Sony, Intel, Visa, Tencent and Bitmain among other global brands. According to WIPO’s study published earlier this year, Chinese companies accounted for 49 percent of all blockchain patents in 2017, while the American organizations ranked second with 33 percent.
The fondness for blockchain technology but total rejection of digital currencies by the Chinese government bears similarities to the position of Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma. Speaking earlier this year he claimed that, “I’m quite bullish about blockchain. Alibaba has been conducting research on blockchain for several years. […] There is no bubble for blockchain, but there’s a bitcoin bubble.“
Ant Finance, a payments affiliate of Alibaba has recently launched a blockchain-based remittance service to settle cross-border financial transactions for customers in Hong Kong and the Philippines. At the time, Ma hinted the app might soon expand to other regions. He also reaffirmed his belief in blockchain potential, saying that, “There are still 1.7 billion people in the world who have no bank accounts, but most of them have mobile phones. The impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination.“
Meanwhile, IBM has been steadily upping its involvement in numerous blockchain ventures. The tech giant has signed a $740 million deal with the Australian government, partnered City of Riyadh and announced plans to launch a Blockchain Research Centre with Columbia University.
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.