Mastercard Eyes Blockchain for Fighting Fake Identities

New patent filings from Mastercard explore a blockchain-based identity data storage system.

AccessTimeIconApr 16, 2018 at 2:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:49 a.m. UTC

A newly published patent filing from Mastercard suggests that the payments giant is looking at blockchain as a way to safeguard identity data.

In an application released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last Thursday, Mastercard describes a system in which a semi-private or private blockchain would be used to receive and store identity data, the pieces of which could include a "name, a street address, tax identification number" and more.

The company states in the filing, which was originally submitted in September 2017, that the tech could help it block the use of fake identity data within its systems.

Mastercard writes:

"The use of a blockchain for the storage of identity and credential data may provide for an immutable storage of such data that can provide an accurate verification thereof and also prevent the fabrication of such data."

The filing explains that the system would generate a "data file" for each entity, which would be associated with a public key and a "geographic jurisdiction." These entities would be "subordinate," while a "superior" entity would impose a digital signature on their data files. A "hashing module of the processing server" would subsequently generate an "identity value" for each entity and create a block with a timestamp and a record of the most recent block added to the blockchain.

Unlike a public blockchain, Mastercard's proposed network would only allow certain nodes to submit data. These authorized nodes would act to "prevent the addition of data that may compromise the accuracy of the data stored therein," per to the application.

Put more simply, the Mastercard-approved nodes are the only ones that can update the identity information within the system. And according to Mastercard, the proposed system could possibly replace other means of proving identity that may be susceptible to fabrication and inaccuracies.

As the company notes:

"In such instances, it may be difficult for an entity to disprove a false identity, leading to an interaction with an inauthentic individual or entity. Thus, there is a need for a technical solution to provide for the immutable storage of identity and credential data that may prevent fabrication and inaccuracies."

Mastercard has submitted several blockchain-related patent applications to date. One filing envisioned an infrastructure that could facilitate refund services for cryptocurrency users. Another filing described a blockchain-based database that could instantaneously process payments, thus significantly reducing transaction settlement times.

In addition to the intellectual property plays, Mastercard is moving to beef up its internal blockchain talent as well.

The payments tech company announced last week that it was hiring 175 new technology developers, including blockchain specialists, to work out of an office in Ireland.


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