Having got out of the payments business, the United States Patent Office have just published two new eBay patents for crypto currency. They would work with a number of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin.
The patents titled Distributed Crypto Currency Unauthorized Transfer Monitoring System and Distributed Crypto Currency Reputation System were filed by PayPal employees and it may well be likely that at some point will be assigned from eBay Inc to PayPal Holdings, Inc.
The first payment discusses ways to check crypto currency keys against multiple previous transaction public keys – effectively a way to confirm that the key is legitimate and that the payer owns the currency and is authorised to make a payment with it.
The second patent is more interesting as it discusses passing reputation, effectively feedback, between the recipient and the payer. It talks about reputation coins which would only be passed to the recipient (seller) if the payee (buyer) was happy with the goods or services provided.
Reputation seems strange when talking about an a currency which more or less guarantees anonymity, but it would make sense considering PayPal’s business. If PayPal are underwriting transactions with buyer and seller protections, having a reputation in crypto currency would give them a new risk assessment tool.
As with all patents, you don’t have to have a business case in order to be granted a patent. Whilst PayPal have dabbled with crypto currency we’ve not heard of any widespread adoption and most PayPal users still appear pretty happy funding their purchases from hard currency bank accounts. Will that change? We’ll let you know in a few years time.