Node Up: Looking at MasterCard's Latest Blockchain Patent

Node Up: Looking at MasterCard’s Latest Blockchain Patent

This week, multinational financial services titan MasterCard had yet another blockchain-based patent published by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent deals with a shortcut system in which new nodes would be able to download a blockchain faster thanks to “fast track flags” embedded within block headers.

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MasterCard: ‘Fast Tracking Navigation of Blockchains’

MasterCard’s patent application, titled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR FAST TRACKING NAVIGATION OF BLOCKCHAINS VIA DATA MANIPULATION,” was first applied for in October 2016 and finally published by the USPTO this week.

According to the patent’s abstract, the system involves:

“[…] storing a blockchain comprised of a plurality of blocks, each block including a header comprised of a fast track flag, fast track reference, timestamp, and hash value, where the plurality of blocks includes standard blocks having a deactivated fast track flag and fast track blocks having an activated fast track flag.”

Raison D’être

Blockchains are lengthy, after time relying on thousands and thousands of blocks and then some. This dynamic lends itself to the immutability of blockchains, but it can make starting up a new node a time-consuming, painful process.

Alas, MasterCard’s proposed fast tracking system would help new nodes get fully caught up with their ledgers considerably faster:

“The verification of such a large number of blocks may take a significant amount of time, during which new blocks may be added to the blockchain, further delaying the ability for the new node to participate.

[…] Thus, there is a need for a technical solution to increase the speed at which a blockchain may be navigated for verification thereof, which can thereby reduce the time required for a new node to begin participating in the blockchain.”

What’s MasterCard’s Game Here?

It looks like MasterCard is doing what other powerhouse firms like ING and JP Morgan are doing — trying to angle themselves ahead of the blockchain curve.

In other words, if blockchain technology really does pose an existential threat to the traditional financial word’s current status quo, then MasterCard and other industry leaders are doing their due diligence to ensure they won’t only survive, but thrive ahead of the pack.

What’s your take? Do you think MasterCard clearly recognizes the potential of blockchain tech? Sound off in the comments below. 


Images via Barron’s, Pensions & Investments

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