People’s Bank of China Files Patent for Digital Currency Wallet

The Digital Currency Research Lab at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has filed a new patent this week for a digital wallet that would allow users to track their transaction histories. The patent application was submitted with China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) Friday, June 22.

The new patent outlines how the proposed digital wallet could be used to track transaction data in coordination with a centralized digital currency issuance registration agency. The wallet would enable multi-signature security and manage digital assets that are encrypted - as existing cryptocurrencies - with private keys.

Transaction queries would yield results including the digital currency type, amount, source currency, as well as identification of the source and destination wallets.

This week’s new patent is a part of a longer-term vision for blockchain integration pursued by China’s central bank. While the government maintains a hardline stance on decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), the PBoC has been extensively investigating the benefits of harnessing their underlying technology for the existing financial system.

The Governor of the PBoC, Zhou Xiaochuan, has suggested that digital currencies will ultimately diminish cash circulation and are “technologically inevitable,” while stressing the PBoC’s role in controlling the “unpredictable effects” of certain applications of blockchain. 

In April, the director of PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Lab, Yao Qian, wrote a likewise cautiously affirmative opinion piece for Chinese media advocating for many of blockchain’s potential benefits, while arguing for the need to temper its decentralization in certain scenarios.

Just this month, the PBoC has revealed a new blockchain-powered system with smart contract functionality designed to tokenize paper checks.

Beyond PBoC, in 2017 China as a whole was reported to have filed more blockchain tech patents than any other country with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).