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. (See more: How Blockchain Could Revolutionize Music Streaming.)
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. (See more: Just What Is Microsoft Azure Blockchain Council?) 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.