Blockchain solutions are on the rise, with the number of patents filed for the technology more than doubling each year since 2013, according to a new report from the Australian Computer Society (ACS). 

 Since 2013 blockchain patent filings have grown by at least 140 per cent each year, according to the study. The majority of solutions are for payments and transaction systems, financial services and business administration.

Blockchain Innovation: A Patent Analytics report, analysed global data on patent filings for blockchain solutions to determine global hot spots for research and development and investment. China and the US are the clear leaders followed by South Korea, Japan and the UK. 

Australia filed the sixth most patent applications with 55 different applicants contributing to 49 patent family registrations. The seven Australian companies that have patents in blockchain technology are Bloxian, Moneycatcha, Identitii, Data61, E-Nome, TBSx3 and bron.tech.

Australia also ranked as the sixth largest patent destination with 87 patent families having at least one patent application filed there. “Applicants must file patents in each country for which they wish to have patent protection,” according to the report. “The patent destination for inventions indicates where innovators choose to protect their invention.”

“With the global market forecast to grow to US$60 billion by 2024, Australian businesses and governments alike have ample opportunity to leverage the technology as it matures,” said ACS president Yohan Ramasundara.

“It’s pleasing to see that despite strong competition in this space, Australia is punching above its weight when it comes to blockchain innovation.”

But Australia’s total patent family is eclipsed by each of the top three individual applicants. South Korean company coin plug filed 75 patent families and American firm Blockchain filed 61. Chinese tech Giant Alibaba which filed 57 patent families. 

What are the blockchain solutions used for?

According to the report, “Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

“It is a foundational technology with the potential to underpin new ways of connecting and recording information across all areas of technology.”

Most blockchain applications revolve around money transfer. The report found 1142 patent families or 61 per cent all blockchain applications are used for in payment and transaction systems.

One example identified by the report is the Australian Stock Exchange’s development of a private blockchain as a post trade solution for the Australian equity market. The report also notes examples of blockchain being used to verify licences for digital content and real time identity verification.

The next most common use is financial services like banking, stock trading and cryptocurrencies, according to the report. Examples include the Nasdaq using blockchain to match stock purchase transactions and Coinplug using biometric data for authentication on a blockchain platform in South Korea.

Business administration, the third most common use according to the report, refers to transactions not involving money. These include record keeping, medical records and management of contracts.

For example, US based SkuChain uses blockchain to verify supply chain transactions. “The consensus system enforces and records a chronological order of events into a public order ledger, which enables effective item and container tracking,” the report aid.

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