CME to Patent System for Seamless Blockchain Rule Changes

A new patent application from the CME outlines ways in which the rules underlying private blockchains can be rewritten.

AccessTimeIconFeb 12, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:33 a.m. UTC

CME Group may be looking at ways for developers to modify a blockchain's rules without requiring consensus from all of the network's nodes, new patent filings show.

It's a key need for such systems, such as those that form part of airline reward points programs and other applications in which a blockchain is used to store and maintain information in real time, the application's authors write. The filing was published last Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), having been submitted in December 2016.

CME cites airline frequent flyer programs as one example of where this system would be needed. If an airline chooses to store its frequent flyer customer data on a public blockchain, it would need to have a process in place to change the rules governing the blockchain in case the airline changes the rules or another aspect of the frequent flyer program itself.

The application notes that while public blockchains are important for cryptocurrencies, their difficult-to-change nature makes them less than ideal for some private and commercial uses.

The application explains:

"One example of a rule change is if the airline wants to increase transaction fees to transfer airline miles between parties. If the airline uses an open blockchain protocol like Bitcoin, where anyone may act as a node or miner, the increase in transaction fees would have to be approved by the blockchain users. The rule change would require virtually every node and miner to update their software before the rule change could take effect. Otherwise, a fork … may occur."

The filing represents the latest blockchain-related intellectual property bid for the derivatives giant. Indeed, CME's past patent filings suggest how the company might look to use the tech to store and manage transaction data in connection with trading venues.

Disclosure: CME Group is an investor in Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk's parent company.

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