American multinational financial services giant MasterCard has filed a patent for a technology solution that will expedite the activation of new nodes on a blockchain. The patent was filed on October 2016, and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published the application recently.
A blockchain is very secure, due to its decentralized nature. Every node, i.e. computer on the network, maintains this distributed database in a shared manner. Every node has complete information on the blockchain, hence it’s also called ‘distributed ledger technology’ (DLT).
Since every node has the entire information on the blockchain, the network can’t be destroyed by hacking any central server. This is an important feature of blockchain that makes it permanent. However, over time a blockchain would have a very large number of blocks, with potentially millions of transactions, and this has an impact on activation of new nodes.
Since all nodes on a blockchain must verify all transactions, activation of a new node becomes a time-consuming affair, since the new node has to verify potentially millions of transactions, in a very large number of blocks. The verification process takes time.
In their patent application, MasterCard proposes the following solution to expedite activation of the new nodes:
- “Fast track flags” will be included in the block header. For the purpose of this description, we’ll call it a ‘fast track’ block.
- A new node will be able to quickly verify ‘fast track’ blocks, by identifying them with the tags.
- To verify this block, the node will identify the earlier block with fast track flag, based on timestamp.
- The node would hash that earlier ‘fast track’ block.
- The node will then verify whether the fast track reference in the more recent ‘fast track’ block is the same as the hash of the earlier ‘fast track’ block.
MasterCard has also indicated that this software can be used to perform other functions too, for e.g. querying, hashing, and signatory operations.
MasterCard, headquartered in Purchase, New York, USA, is taking blockchain technology quite seriously, evident from the fact that they have filed over 30 patents related to blockchain and cryptocurrency. MasterCard is certainly not alone among banking and financial services giants to evince a keen interest in this technology, for e.g.:
- Royal Bank of Canada has filed a patent to put credit score transparent on a blockchain;
- PayPal intends to patent a technology solution that will expedite crypto payment;
- Bank of America wants to patent a blockchain-powered data storage solution.