Major financial and technological enterprises from China and the U.S. are leading the global drive to develop blockchain applications, according to a new report that ranks entities by patents filed.
The research, released Friday by iPR Daily, a media outlet specializing in intellectual property, shows that Chinese internet giant Alibaba tops the list with a total of 90 patent applications focused on blockchain-related technologies.
In second place is IBM, which falls just one short of that total with 89 filings, while Mastercard occupies third place with 80 filings. Bank of America made it to fourth place, with 53 blockchain patent applications.
For its ranking, iPR Daily said it consolidated information from patent databases as of Aug. 10 from China, the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea, as well as the International Patent System from the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Notably, the People's Bank of China (PBoC), fifth on the list, marks one of the few central banks in the world to have moved into the blockchain industry with a total of 44 patent applications focused on its planned central bank digital currency.
As CoinDesk reported in June, the PBoC's Digital Currency Lab, spearheaded by Yao Qian, filed over 40 patent applications within 12 months of its launch. Each patent constitutes part of a major effort by the central bank to create a digital currency combining core features of cryptocurrency and the country's existing monetary system.
Other notable companies on the iPR Daily list that have filed at least 20 blockchain-related patent applications include Tencent, Accenture, Ping An Insurance, Bitmain, Intel, Visa, Sony, Google and China's State Grid Corporation.
The report arrives at a time when technologies developed by some of the featured firms are starting to be moved into real-world production.
For instance, Alibaba recently launched a payments corridor based on a distributed network will settle financial transactions for residents living in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Tencent also piloted an application via its WeChat messaging service that used blockchain to speed up the process of reimbursing corporate employees' expenses.
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