JPMorgan patents Bitcoin-like payment system

December 11, 2013: 10:55 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

JPMorgan Chase has patented a digital payment system that could rival Bitcoin.

The system includes digital wallets, the ability to transfer money to anyone and anonymity too, according to a patent application filed to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Aug. 5. A blog on Let's Talk Bitcoin first reported the story.

JPMorgan (JPM) has also patented payment software that would latch onto your Internet browser and allow you to shop without pausing to fill out forms with personal financial information. And with what the bank calls its Internet Pay Anyone Account, moving funds would be anonymous and as easy as sending an email.

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"The credit pushes can be made completely anonymously, with the recipient of the credit having no way to determine from where the credit originated," the bank says in the application.

Another aspect of the digital payment system is a virtual private lockbox. Think of it as a bank account that can only accept funds. That way, users can receive funds from anyone by publishing its digital address publicly without fear that someone can pull money out of it.

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The impetus for the project is likely Bitcoin, the independent electronic currency created in 2009 that has gained lots of recent attention. But the patent application shows no mention of Bitcoin.

It does, however, say what led to its development: The modern financial system is outdated.

In the patent application, JPMorgan notes two trends that are making the old banking system obsolete. One is that merchants are establishing direct relationships with customers -- and they don't want middlemen slowing down the transfer of money. The second is that digital products are often sold in small increments for very low prices, and the currently high price of per-transaction fees don't make sense.

"A new marketplace has emerged for low dollar, high volume, real-time payments with payment surety for both consumers and producers," the bank writes in the application.

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