The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to Bank of America on Tuesday, allowing them to offer a “hardened storage device” that customers could use to store private keys for blockchain platforms. This is one of the many patents that Bank of America has applied for over the last few years with a special focus on the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.
Right now, most keys stored are only protected with a simple password that could be easy to hack. Bank of America itself notes that the connection to the internet or a public network puts the private keys at risk, since they are “continuously susceptible to being misappropriated.” They added, “Therefore, a need exists for a secure means for storing private cryptography keys.”
According to the patent,
“In specific embodiments of the system, the authentication routine is conducted as part of a crypto-currency transaction, a blockchain transaction or the like.” Even though this patent also mentioned “crypto-currencies” a few times, the document seems to leave the actual use of the device to be available for other types of keys.
Fortune reported in June on the dozens of applications that Bank of America has submitted for patent rights, citing their need to “be prepared” for future use. However, consumers may remember that, only two months later, the former Senior Vice President had called the patents “meaningless other than making for press releases and public perception of innovation.” Time will only tell if Bank of America intends to implement any of the patents they applied for, or if it has only been for the “perception of innovation” that Michael Wuehler accused it of.
Mastercard has taken an interest in the cryptocurrency and blockchain world as well, leading them to apply for a patent that lets a single entity launch multiple blockchains. The patent was published on October 9th, though it has been pending since July 2016.