Mastercard Files Patent to Battle Fake IDs with Blockchain

Global payment solution and financial services company, Mastercard, is considering utilizing blockchain technology as a means to store, safeguard, and verify identity data, in an attempt to combat the prevalence of criminals using fake IDs.

According to a new patent filed by MasterCard with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Mastercard would develop a semi-private or private blockchain-based system to receive and store identity data, including names, addresses, and tax identification numbers such as a user’s social security number.

Mastercard hopes to replace traditional means of identity verification, which is done through government IDs and credit cards – methods that Mastercard says may be “inaccurate” or “entirely fabricated in ways that may be difficult to identify”.

Mastercard states in the patent:

"In such instances, it may be difficult for an entity to disprove a false identity, leading to an interaction with an inauthentic individual or entity. Thus, there is a need for a technical solution to provide for the immutable storage of identity and credential data that may prevent fabrication and inaccuracies."

The patent continues: 

"The use of a blockchain for the storage of identity and credential data may provide for an immutable storage of such data that can provide an accurate verification thereof and also prevent the fabrication of such data.”

Mastercard’s system would only allow certain nodes to submit key data for each “entity” that would be associated with a public key and a “geographic jurisdiction”. Each entity would be a “subordinate”, that will be assigned a digital signature by a “superior” entity. A "hashing module” on Mastercard’s server would then create an "identity value" for each entity, and also create a timestamped block with a record of the most recent block added to the blockchain.

Mastercard’s goal with the new system is to create and “maintain a continuously growing list of data records hardened against tampering and revision.”