On July 17, US-based financial institution Wells Fargo officially filed a patent for a blockchain-based “system and methods to manage a tokenization manifest.” In other words, the system would provide a pathway to create a tokenized representation of any sort of value. A token could be used in place of a bank account number, for example.
Additionally, the patent outlines plans to develop a bank-run “Tokenization Service Provider” that could tokenize pieces of information–documents, photographs, video, audio, and other pieces of digital media. Content owners submit the pieces of media, and the bank creates a token.
Tokenization Could Make Sensitive Data Easier to Store, Manage, and Protect
The idea is that the secure nature of blockchain technology could be used to keep tokenized data and media secure. The patent explains that the process of tokenization using encryption methods that restrict general access until the data is retrieved, or ‘detokenized,’ by a user with access rights. Therefore, the system could be used to manage and protect sensitive data.
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Additionally, the patented system would allow multiple authorized entities to access a piece of tokenized information. “Unlike the limited, anonymous signatures supported by existing systems, this tokenization manifest supports single signers, multiple signers, or co-signers to store information publicly without loss of confidentiality of any sensitive content,” reads the document.
Last month, Circle co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire said at MoneyConf Dublin that the world is “at the beginning of a tokenization of everything…every form of value storage and public record.”
Tokenization and Blockchain Take Over
Wells Fargo certainly isn’t the first major financial institution to file a blockchain-related patent, and it certainly won’t be the last. A Bloomberg report in January found that Bank of America had filed at least 43 blockchain-related patents. Last week, Mastercard obtained a patent that granted in the right to “[manage] fractional reserves of blockchain currency” with the creation of a debit card that would allow its holders to spend both crypto and fiat currencies. Mastercard has also obtained many blockchain patents.
Despite its friendliness toward blockchain, Wells Fargo has a history of distancing itself from cryptocurrency. In June, the bank officially banned its customers from using Wells Fargo-issued credit cards to purchase crypto. In April, Wells Fargo was sued by cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex for placing embargoes on bank transfers that prevented the exchange from being able to deposit customers’ funds in their bank accounts.