Tech giants eclipse banks in fintech patent race, report shows

The world’s fifteen largest banks combined own five times fewer fintech patents than IBM, four times fewer than Microsoft and half as many as Google, new research from patent research AI firm Cipher shows.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s portfolio of 2,547 fintech patents makes it the clear leader, as that figure represents nearly as many as its 14 closest rivals combined. On average, BAML’s competitors hold only 6% as many patents. Two European banks, BNP Paribas and Deutsche hold only one and three patents respectively.

Even though BAML is the leader in fintech patents among its peers, its portfolio is dwarfed by every major tech companies. At over a century old, IBM comes out as the apparent leader in fintech innovation: its portfolio is five times larger than the top fifteen banks’ put together.

Blockchain remains unconquered territory for tech and finance firms alike. Bank of America is the leader in blockchain-related patents among established businesses, including tech companies. But the US’s second-largest bank holds just 6% of patents in this area, while the vast majority is held by a disparate array of start-ups.

Other findings from the report show that Chinese companies hold seven times more cloud and AI-related patents than American firms and Amazon’s patent portfolio is now smaller than that held by Alibaba, often considered its Chinese equivalent.

Read the full report

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