Goldman Sachs has applied for a patent for blockchain technology that it is developing, aimed at streamlining the way securities are settled.
The patent (application# 20150332395) is titled “Cryptographic Currency For Securities Settlement” and its stated inventors are Paul Walker and Phil Venables.
Bitcoin’s blockchain and the distributed ledger systems inspired by it are being increasingly explored by banks to automate the settlement of securities trades and fiat money transfers. Banks have been developing their own cryptocurrency equivalents (e.g. Citicoin) as part of their in-house testing.
Goldman’s proposed scheme involves what it calls a SETLcoin (a very similar branding to SETL.io, which is also working on a permissioned blockchain system for securities settlement) that can be labelled to represent, for example, shares of a stock. It appears to be its own cryptocurrency, not dependent on Bitcoin, though Bitcoin is mentioned 20 times in the document. Litecoin is mentioned as well. In several instances, SETLcoin’s interaction with bitcoin, such their exchange, is mentioned.
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The patent summarizes how the enforcement of asset transfers is carried out:
“The cryptographic currency protocol supports a virtual wallet that, in various embodiments, is a security and cash account for storing and managing the cryptographic currency. Opening a transaction via the virtual wallet to transfer the cryptographic currency is a strong guarantee of the availability of funds in the virtual wallet because, e.g., funds are not transacted unless the commit phase is successful.”
It goes on to describe how asset transfers would be carried out rapidly and can render the need for credit checks obsolete by eliminating counterparty risk.
The document indicates that a related patent application was filed on May 16 of last year.
Goldman became one of the most prominent institutions to enter the blockchain race when it joined a consortium of banks that are collaboratively developing the technology. Even within the realm of bitcoin as a currency, a far more contentious concept among mainstream financial players, Goldman has been active. It was one of the main investors behind Circle’s $50 million funding round in April.