Fidelity Investments, the world's fourth largest mutual fund and financial services group, is looking to patent a method by which a blockchain could be used for authenticating voters and processing fair elections.
On 16th February, the US Patent and Trademark Office released an application for "Crypto Voting and Social Aggregating, Fractionally Efficient Transfer Guidance, Conditional Triggered Transaction, Datastructures, Apparatuses, Methods and Systems" (SOCOACT), originally submitted by Fidelity on 14th July, 2016.
The filing is attributed to Fidelity employees Timothy Lohe, Hadley Rupert Stern, Raghav Chawla and Christopher Scott Parsons, located in Massachusetts, and Thomas Charles McGuire, based in Ireland.
The application outlines the structure of Fidelity’s 'crypto-voting apparatus', the components of which include voter authentication, vote processing, a crypto user interface (UI), a blockchain oracle and a smart contract to direct all computational actions.
The application explains:
In developed economies, SOCOACT could be used by corporations to hold proxy votes for events such as Board of Director elections and shareholder proposals.
Investment in the blockchain voting space has been growing. In November 2016, Overstock.com announced the acquisition of blockchain voting startup SettleMint. Governments are interested too. Earlier in the year, government officials in Moscow released plans to investigate how blockchain tech could mitigate voter fraud in the country.
Tracking use cases
Use cases for the SOCOACT system extend beyond voting. The patent application outlines a geotracking feature that could potentially be used to locate missing persons.
In addition, SOCOACT could be implemented to better track resource consumption and create a bitcoin-backed market where resources and liabilities can be traded among different parties.
“Water meters, electric & gas meters, as well as environmental monitoring devices such as C02 emitter meters can be used to inform enable a bitcoin-style transaction involving resource usage or pollution emission," the application says.
Then, by using devices to track these resources or pollutants, a "bitcoin-enabled marketplace between individuals, corporations and government entities can be created,” it goes on.
Fidelity has displayed a generally progressive attitude toward bitcoin and blockchain tech. Earlier this month, the firm announced that its charitable arm has raised $7m in bitcoin donations for charity.
The company also hosted a European hackathon last October in which it awarded prizes to participants for their blockchain-based applications.
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