AT&T Explores Cryptocurrency Car Payments in New Patent Filing

Digital currency payments in vehicles may not be far off, if the ideas in a new patent application from telecom giant AT&T enter real-world use.

AccessTimeIconApr 24, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. UTC

Digital currency payments in motor vehicles may not be far off, if the ideas in a new patent application from telecom giant AT&T enter real-world use.

Yesterday, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, dubbed "Vehicle System with System Report Generation and Methods For Use Therewith". Within this innocuously titled document, however, is a concept for integrating cryptocurrency payments into vehicles, attributed to AT&T Mobility, a subsidiary of the firm.

Here’s how the patent’s description explains it:

"A processor is configured to perform operations including generating a vehicle report based on the vehicle data; generating in accordance with a cryptocurrency protocol, a digital currency record that is unique to the vehicle report, wherein the digital currency record indicates a digital currency value associated with the vehicle report. The digital currency record is stored in a memory and communicated in conjunction with a purchase of goods or services by the user, wherein the digital currency value is credited to a purchase price of the goods or services."

Notably, the application distinguishes between blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and other iterations of electronic money – though, in the case of Beenz and e-gold, some them are currencies that did not stand the test of time.

Specific cryptocurrencies mentioned include bitcoin and monero, among others.

The application goes on to conceptualize what these payments may actually entail, including what are essentially micropayments that occur depending on what happens during a drive.

"For example, an hour highway driving may be worth only one dollar, but identification of a pothole, a damaged road sign or malfunctioning traffic signal may increase the value by differing amounts, based on the condition detected," the application explains.

The submission is AT&T’s second related to the technology. In October, the USPTO released a patent application for a kind of home subscriber server that utilizes a blockchain.

Futuristic car image via Shutterstock


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