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American Express Pub. No. 2018/0075453

19 April 2018

U.S. Patent App. No. 2018/0075452

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.




Inventor:  Sastry Durvasula, Andras Ferenczi, Upendra Mardikar, Keshav Narsipur, Vishnuvajhala Subrahmanyam

Filed and Priority: Sept. 15, 2016


U.S. Publication No. 2018/0075453 (“The 453 Publication”) seeks patent protection for a payment network using a blockchain.  The ‘453 Publication was filed on and claims priority to, September 15, 2016.

The ‘453 Publication describes a general payment system using a distributed ledger.  For example, Fig. 1 nicely explains electronic transactions using a payment system 100 with a Blockchain interface 116.  The system 100 includes the obligatory digital wallet 120, but varies from other techniques by including a central platform to process the wallet transaction.


In the system 100, the digital currency issuer system 101 serves “as the interface between external systems … and the payment network.” (Para. 34)  Including, the digital currency issuer system 101 can “ensure that the digital representation of balances match the fiat balances.”  (Para. 34)


Patent scope is defined by its claims and examining pending patent claims is speculation, at best.  Nonetheless, reviewing the ‘453 Publication claims offers good insight in what is really going on here.



  1. A method comprising:

      preparing, by a payment network, a request to complete a transaction from an account associated with a payer digital wallet for entry on a blockchain, wherein the request includes an amount and payee address associated with a payee digital wallet;

sending, by the payment network, the request to the blockchain using a blockchain interface;

approving, by the payment network, the request; and

adjusting, by the payment network, a balance of the payer digital wallet and a balance of the payee digital wallet to reflect approval of the request by writing the transaction to the blockchain.


What jumps out is that all FOUR method steps are performed “by the payment network.”  Therefore, while the specification describes the invention in relation to a blockchain network, functionality is sought for THE PAYMENT NETWORK.



Note: the specification defines the system 100 of Fig. 1 as a “payment system” and not a “payment network”








The specification defines the payment network:


“The merchant computer and the bank computer may be interconnected via a second network, referred to as a payment network. The payment network which may be part of certain transactions represents existing proprietary networks that presently accommodate transactions for credit cards, debit cards, and other types of financial/banking cards. The payment network is a closed network that is assumed to be secure from eavesdroppers. Exemplary transaction networks may include the American Express.RTM., VisaNet.RTM., Veriphone.RTM., Discover Card.RTM., PayPal.RTM., ApplePay.RTM., GooglePay, private networks (e.g., department store networks), and/or any other payment networks.”  (Para 91)


Therefore, by placing a second network, the closed network that is assumed to be secure from eavesdroppers, the ‘453 Publication appears to be a way for a large bank or payment processor to place their name on a digital currency transaction.  You have a fairly straightforward and known digital currency infrastructure, but use the pre-existing bank network as the gateway to this infrastructure.


This offers a similar solution to MasterCard’s U.S. Publication No. 2016/0342989. (see

As we see major banks continue to add their names to cryptocurrency transactions, we can foresee softening of general public trepidation .

Part of increasing the comfort level is fraud detection and risk assessment.  The “payment system” (Fig. 1) includes a risk assessment system 108.

Risk assessment system 108 may assess the likelihood of fraud for a transaction request and provide the assessment to the digital currency smart contract 112 of blockchain 110.  Blockchain 110 may be configured to apply changes in response to an acceptable likelihood of fraud and roll the changes back in response to an unacceptable likelihood of fraud. (Para. 38)

Trust and fraud detection is a common trend, as we have covered patents by Accenture, British Telecom, Bank of America, as well the application by Mastercard.

(final note: for patent practitioners – this specification can also serve as the go-to source for patent specification boilerplate.  See Paras. 66-90 and 92-96.  pure patent drafting gold!)

The patent application was prepared and filed by Snell and Wilmer.

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