Let’s Talk Bitcoin has brought to light a recent patent application assigned to Mastercard International Incorporated, titled “Payment Interchange for Use with Global Shopping Cart”, with one of the payments supported being Bitcoin.
Its abstract reads:
“A payment interchange for use in a global shopping cart and a method for its use are provided. The global shopping cart includes a storage medium having thereon computer instructions for implementing one or more functions of the global shopping cart, and a processor for executing the computer instructions to provide functions including a payment function for paying for an item to be purchased. The global shopping cart has a flexible application programming interface (API) framework sufficient to support the payment interchange including the payment function for paying for an item to be purchased by one or more users of the global shopping cart and by one or more payment modes or sources.”
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The “payment interchange” allows for multiple modes of payment, including “non-traditional modes”. These are later expanded upon to include: “barter, virtual currency, bitcoin, social media credits, automated clearing house (ACH), and coupons.” Similarly, when describing its “flexible API framework”, “the API can also support an interface to accept non-traditional modes or sources of payment such as Amazon virtual currency, paying with rewards points, bitcoin, virtual card numbers, and the like.”
The Let’s Talk Bitcoin post noted other instances of Mastercard et al filing similar applications in the past. As Bitcoin grows, “legacy institutions such as MasterCard develop technologies that compete with, interface with and co-opt Bitcoin through patent filings.” They also note their recent lobbying about “Bitcoin and mobile payments” on Capitol Hill. They also cite some of the controversy that has transpired in the Bitcoin world with regards to patents.
Traditionalists will claim though that Mastercard wants to have all its bases covered and therefore lists every conceivable form of payment. This would follow a pattern of other patent activity by large companies where Bitcoin is tangentially mentioned but does not comprise an indispensable feature of the patent. Previously, credit card companies have come out with statements dismissing any threat posed by Bitcoin.