Is Apple Planning to Use Blockchain?

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has filed a new patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that indicates it is creating a system for certifying timestamps using blockchain technology.

Earlier this month, Coindesk spotted the patent application that talks about three ways for verifying timestamps with one involving the use of a blockchain platform. Blockchain, which is gaining in prominence and popularity among all sorts of companies, is a public ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed. It is constantly growing as "completed" blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings. Each node or computer connected to the network receives a copy of the blockchain. It's the technology behind bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The Cupertino, California technology giant said in the patent application that using blockchain to create and store timestamps can protect a secure element, for example a SIM or microSD card storing confidential information, if a single node is compromised by hackers. The application says, "The new time becomes part of a blockchain when a miner solves the hash puzzle related to the new block holding the transaction indicating the new time. Because of distributed consensus, attempted alteration of the blockchain by a malicious node in terms of the time value will be detected by honest nodes. In the third scenario, a maliciously-altered block in the blockchain will not be recognized by the device and will not be recognized by the SE and thus a bogus time value will not corrupt the state of the SE. 

Apple isn’t the only technology powerhouse eyeing blockchain. In September, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) inked a deal with Israel’s largest bank to develop a platform for digital bank guarantees based on the technology. According to a report by The Times of Israel, the deal between Microsoft and Bank Hapoalim marked the first time a financial institution in the country began using blockchain for financial contracts. With the platform, the bank will be able to more easily sign up guarantors. To get a bank guarantee today, a customer has to go into a bank branch, move the guarantee to the beneficiary and then return it if it isn't used, which can be a complicated, time-consuming process. Under the deal, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will create a new tool that will run on Azure, its cloud computing platform, and will test the applications that have blockchain as the underpinning technology.

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