Canada’s largest bank by market capitalization has applied for four new patents that suggest the company could be aiming to launch cryptocurrency services.
That’s per Canadian trade publication The Logic, which reported this week that the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has filed for a spate of new patents that indicate the financial services powerhouse may be planning a cryptocurrency exchange and a point-of-sale portal for users to easily pay merchants in cryptocurrency.
To be sure, large companies often file patents defensively, so it’s far from a given that RBC will ever actualize such an exchange or portal. Still, the bank’s mere attempt to secure these patents is notable on account of the company’s sheer size and influence in the Canadian market.
Indeed, if RBC is granted the patents and eventually chooses to pursue them, it won’t be an insignificant development on the adoption front. In Canada alone, the bank has more than 10 million customers across more than 1,200 branches. RBC’s potential crypto services is thus another major potential inroad to the mainstream for the cryptoeconomy.
RBC itself has been mum on specifics for now, with a company spokesperson confirming only that the patents had been applied for to “ensure proprietary ideas and concepts are protected.”
In the very least then, watching for any further RBC forays toward the space going forward may prove a key thread to watch in the North American cryptocurrency arena and even beyond if other big banks around the world are influenced to take up similar paths.
Canada Could Use a Blockbuster Exchange
The past year has been a rough one with regard to cryptocurrency exchange collapses in Canada, so an RBC-backed crypto platform could certainly bring more reputability to the country’s crypto sector.
First there was QuadrigaCX, which went belly up after its founder Gerald Cotten stole and lost some $80 million worth of his clients’ funds and then died under mysterious circumstances, leaving the platform in disarray and many investors without their rightful holdings.
More recently, there’s been the apparent tanking of Canadian crypto trading venue Einstein Exchange. Earlier this month, British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) moved to commandeer the company after it had sketchily declared plans to shutter its operations no later than 90 days from October 31st, citing a lack of profitability.
The enforcement action came on the heels of multiple customers alleging they could not retrieve their crypto holdings from the exchange.
RBC Isn’t Only Big Bank in Canada Doing Its Crypto Homework
Last month, The Logic also reported that the nation’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, had fostered an internal presentation on the possibility of creating its own digital currency.
The result of a multi-year research project, the presentation was reportedly made to the institution’s governor and board of directors and argued that backing a digital currency would be entirely compatible with the central bank’s operations while still offering similar benefits to traditional payment rails. The project’s researchers also argued that such a currency could help optimize sharing financial information “with police or tax authorities” as needed.
Ultimately, the presentation’s focus was on the need for the Bank of Canada to get ahead rather than fall behind in the arena.
“We need to innovate to stay in the game … Cryptocurrencies may become a direct threat to our ability to implement monetary policy and lender of last resort (LOLR) role,” the presentation read.
The revelation comes as no surprise, as chatter around state-backed digital currencies has been all the rage in recent weeks. Between China’s digital yuan project and growing calls to tokenize the dollar and the euro in the U.S. and Europe respectively, there are likely plenty more related developments to come.