By Pete Rizzo
Global financial services giant MasterCard (NYSE:MA) has filed a patent that would seek to incorporate bitcoin into its design for a planned global online shopping cart.
Entitled 'Payment Interchange For Use With Global Shopping Cart', the filing was submitted by the New York company to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in March 2013.
The patent application is part of a series of filings related to MasterCard's effort to build a global online shopping cart catering to online shoppers.
This global shopping cart would be based on each store offering its own individual cart, thereby making it easier for consumers to dedicate carts to larger projects, such as weddings or home renovations.
MasterCard's filing reads:
The multitude of shopping choices available online and at points of sale have made maintaining the track of purchases a relatively complex task. It is sometimes very difficult to track and organize all data concerning purchases made by an individual or a family over a period of time. Further, there are projects undertaken that may extend for a year or more.
The patent, published on 19th June, has not yet been approved by the USPTO.
The filing notes that a global shopping cart would require a payment interchange that supports a variety of payment methods.
As such, MasterCard includes bitcoin in the filing under the broader term of "non-traditional modes or sources of payment", stating:
The payment interchange of claim 1, wherein the one or more payment modes or sources comprise cloud payment schemes, digital wallets, point of sale (POS) and non-traditional modes or sources of payment.
The patent later expands on the definition of barter payments, listing "virtual currency, bitcoin, social media credits, automated clearing house (ACH) and coupons".
Support for bitcoin wallets
MasterCard also details how it will aim to support a broad range of payments through a "flexible API framework sufficient to support the payment of interchange".
Under the claim, the API would also be able to interface with bitcoin as well as other digital wallets such as its own MasterPass, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Wallet, PayPal and potentially those offered by bitcoin companies.
The filing includes bitcoin among a number of other offerings, reading:
The API can also support an interface to accept non-traditional modes or sources of payment such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) virtual currency, paying with rewards points, bitcoin, virtual card numbers and the like.
Bitcoin's patent battles
With the news of the MasterCard filing, the credit card issuer adds its name to a list of other traditional financial companies that have sought to claim patent protection for various digital currency uses, including Gemalto (OTCPK:GTOMY), Visa (NYSE:V) and Western Union (NYSE:WU).
However, while potentially worrying to observers in the bitcoin community, there remains disagreement regarding just what kind of threat, if any, digital currency companies would face from the patent filings.
Hat tip to Let's Talk Bitcoin
Link to the original post on CoinDesk