New Patent Suggests Mastercard Could Have Big Blockchain Plans

A new patent awarded to global lending and payment solutions company Mastercard points to the giant developing blockchain technology that supports multiple currencies. It’s one of a number of patent applications from Mastercard and hints that the company may have big plans to compete in the blockchain-based payments marketplace.

Mastercard’s latest patent, which was awarded on October 9, 2018 and first filed in July 2016, outlines the issue of needing to store different types of transactions on a single platform. An “entity” wanting to use multiple types of blockchains, such as for managing several different currencies might need to run multiple blockchain platforms, needing more computer power.

The patent says:

“There is a need for a technological solution to provide a partitioned blockchain that is capable of storing multiple transaction formats and types in a single blockchain.”

The partitions, named “subnets” by the patent would hold different transaction types allowing one blockchain to receive information about different transaction types from different sources. The resulting blockchain would be “more robust” and have “greater utility.”

Mastercard is in the Top 3 Globally for Patent Filings

In IPR Daily’s 2018 Top 100 Global Blockchain Patent Enterprise Ranking Mastercard was listed third place with 80 patents, surpassed only by Alibaba and IBM. Mastercard has filed and been awarded numerous patents relating to blockchain technology in the past few years including one released in July 2018 proposing a method for managing fractional reserves of blockchain currency and linking blockchain-based assets to fiat currency accounts. Three more blockchain patents were awarded to Mastercard in September focusing on business-to-business transactions and data flow.

Of course, patents are no guarantee a company is actually working on the technology or will ever implement it. Mastercard’s activity, however, is a sure indication the corporation has big plans for blockchain technology. Recent news out of Mastercard Labs confirms this.

R&D and Technology Expansion

Ken Moore, head of Mastercard’s global research and development initiatives, spoke to The Irish Times in September 2018. Mastercard’s Dublin-based research center is investigating blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies, focusing on products and services built on this “deep tech.” Much of Mastercard’s research now happens in Ireland under the banner Mastercard Labs and employing around 400 staff.

Moore confirms that the research arm of Mastercard is looking to go beyond the “hype” and develop “real, grounded services and products” that would be rolled out across the wider group. “This is not exploratory work for us,” says Moore.

Mastercard Labs recently revealed plans to create 175 new jobs including positions for blockchain specialists, data scientists, and cloud infrastructure specialists.

The payments company is also expanding its technology hub in New York City and plans to add 470 new staff to its existing 250 by 2024, as well as creating a new 212,000 square foot facility in Manhattan.

Mastercard also partnered with Microsoft in September 2018 on a new payments platform titled “Mastercard Track” which uses Microsoft Azure. Though Microsoft Azure has blockchain functionality, it has not been confirmed whether the new platform will integrate blockchain. Mastercard Track aims to automate global trade for business clients and reduce inefficiencies, it will enable more direct cross-border payments.

If indeed Mastercard quickly develops workable blockchain solutions that can fulfill blockchain’s promise to improve global financial systems, it could quickly overtake newer fintech firms focused solely on blockchain. These newer firms just don’t yet have the market reach of Mastercard.

It could also make millions from this kind of blockchain success in a similar way to the predicted profits from blockchain for other corporate giants like Amazon and Microsoft.

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