Tech 28 June 2018

Gerald Fenech

PBoC seeks patent for digital wallet for tracking crypto transactions

It appears that China is not really so hostile to cryptocurrencies as long as it has control over them. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has reportedly filed a new patent, via its Digital Currency Research Lab, for a digital wallet that people can use to track their cryptocurrency transactions.

The patent, submitted to China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) last week, describes a digital wallet that offers multi-signature security, managing encrypted digital assets with private keys. The wallet will track the transaction data with the help of a “centralized digital currency issuance registration agency.”

Additionally, the wallet will have information on the user’s digital currency type, amount, source currency as well as identification of the source and destination wallets.

The patent is part of PBoC’s long-term vision for blockchain integration. Despite the Beijing government’s extremely rigid stance on decentralized cryptocurrencies, the central bank—which carries monetary policies and regulates financial institutions in the country—has been extensively investigating the benefits of harnessing the virtual currencies’ underlying technology for China’s existing financial system.

Previously, PBoC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan was quoted by Chinese news outlets saying that he expects the “technologically inevitable” digital currencies to ultimately diminish cash circulation, while stressing the PBoC’s role in controlling the “unpredictable effects” of certain applications of blockchain. In other words, China wants to retain control over the digital currency business.

Yao Qian, director of the Chinese central bank’s Digital Currency Research Lab, wrote a cautiously affirmative op-ed that advocated many of blockchain’s benefits, although he also stressed the need to resolve the technology’s shortcomings before it can “become the financial infrastructure of the future.”

Several weeks ago, PBoC revealed a new blockchain-powered system with smart contract functionality designed to tokenize paper checks. Intriguingly, China reportedly has filed more blockchain tech patents before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) than any other country in 2017—strange for a country that professes to be overtly hostile to cryptocurrencies and exchanges in general.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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