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Capital One Wants to Authenticate Users on a Blockchain

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:56 PM
Conor Maloney
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:56 PM

Blockchain adoption continues to rise in the banking sector, with the news that Capital One has applied for a patent to potentially develop a blockchain system that authenticates new users in a secure manner.

Capital One is a bank holding company specializing in credit cards and bank loans, making security a primary concern. According to documents published this week, the company has applied for a patent entitled “Blockchain Systems and Methods for User Authentication.” The patent was filed in Virginia, USA, with Johnathan Weimer and Ryan Fox listed as the inventors of the authentication system.

The abstract to the patent describes the project in more detail, stating that computer-implemented methods and systems are provided for blockchain-mediated user authentication and going on to list potential applications of a user system, which will include verification messages indicating that the root system successfully authenticated the user and including an authorization code for receiving, from the root system, a root system secret.

The authentication system will comprise of:

“At least one processor; and at least one non-transitory memory containing instructions that, when executed by the at least one processor, cause the authentication system to: publish a root system block for a user to a private blockchain.”

The patent published this week is a continuation of a patent filed in June 2017 by Johnathan Weimer, showing that the company has been working on the technology for quite some time, and is seemingly designed to decongest computer systems by streamlining authentication while improving user experience, citing the resentment felt by users forced to respond to repeated authentication requests associated with different institutions as one of the use cases for merging them all into a collaborative authentication system that handles authentication interactions for multiple institutions.

capital one user authentication

However, the patent continuing the work filed in 2017 may yet be incomplete and may require some collaboration to overcome certain technical problems.

From the patent

“A preferable authentication system would track authentication interactions for users attempting to access the computer systems of the participating institutions. Such an authentication system would be non-reputable, preventing users or institutions from later challenging authentication records as false or inaccurate. Furthermore, a preferable authentication system would limit sharing of personal information between the users and the institutions.”

“The authentication system would also be constructed in a way that encouraged the participating institutions to trust in the validity of the authentication records. A need therefore exists for an authentication system architecture that addresses these technical problems,” the authors continued.

Capital One is the latest in a series of major financial institutions and financial services companies to file blockchain patents and integrate blockchain technology into their business model. Many of the public banks in China now use blockchain technology in some way, and Barclays is also pursuing blockchain patents for the development of a new cryptocurrency.

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