The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published four applications filed by MasterCard related to its work with blockchain and distributed ledger tech.
The four applications, all published on 24th November, focus specifically on payments and transacting. Steven Charles Davis is listed as the sole inventor on three of the four applications, while the last also names Ashish Raghavendra Tetali as an inventor.
In sum, the proposed patents suggest that MasterCard is at least weighing the question of how blockchain-based digital currencies could be integrated into its own systems. The applications focus on methods and systems for authorizing, processing and securing blockchain-based transactions, with MasterCard arguing that a combination of blockchain and its existing payment technology could be a boon for those making digital payments.
The company wrote in one of its applications:
"Accordingly, the use of traditional payment networks and payment systems technologies in combination with blockchain currencies may provide consumers and merchants the benefits of the decentralized blockchain while still maintaining security of account information and provide a strong defense against fraud and theft."
Publication of the applications comes weeks after the credit card firm released a set of experimental blockchain APIs. Last year, MasterCard gained exposure to the industry by taking part in the funding round for investment firm Digital Currency Group.
MasterCard is far from alone in its pursuit of patents related to digital currencies or blockchain.
Patent application releases over the past few months have suggested a flurry of activity on the patent front among both emerging and established businesses. In recent weeks, the USPTO has published applications from startups including 21 Inc, Blockstream and Digital Asset Holdings, as well as major firms like AT&T and Nasdaq.
Disclosure: MasterCard is an investor in CoinDesk's parent company, Digital Currency Group.