When it comes to blockchain adoption, American Express (Amex) certainly hasn’t dragged its heels. Last year it partnered with Ripple to power B2B payments in an attempt to create a global frictionless payment network. Its leadership has been very welcoming and accepting of the blockchain world, fully embracing its potential, unlike Visa’s CFO who has routinely lambasted blockchain technology. The US Patent and Trademark Office recently revealed Amex applied for a patent related to creating a Proof-of-Payment (PoP) system. The implications of this new system are wildly exciting and have a whole range of potential uses.
What is a Proof-of-Payment System?
Amex has created this fantastic new system whereby people – or possibly AI – purchase something in advance, with this information then transmitted to a blockchain node. The information transmitted includes the merchant’s ID as well as the value of the transaction. This will then be propagated to the blockchain and a certain smart connected device can then be configured to act upon receiving the correct input. Once this device receives the input it will then release the goods to the consumer. Essentially a PoP system keeps a record of a purchase you made and gives you a code to receive it later down the line – a bit like a digital voucher. This new PoP system could potentially revolutionize customer-facing roles in retail and save valuable time as well as money.
How Would the Proof-of-Payment System Work?
In the patent application, Amex outlined a plan to create this new system whereby someone would pay for something – be it an Airbnb, flight, or bottle of juice – and this payment record would then be uploaded to the new blockchain. Once the user got to the pickup point they would then transmit an identifier code – much like a public key – and the purchased product would be dispensed. In the case of the Airbnb, it could either unlock the door to the accommodation or a secure box that contains the keys.
Still Some Issues to Iron Out
While Amex’s new PoP system sounds like it could revolutionize the consumer journey, there are still many obstacles that it needs to overcome. For example, if someone arrives at an Airbnb having not updated the relevant app with the latest version of the blockchain records – and doesn’t a mobile data or WIFI connection to do so – there could be an issue whereby they cannot obtain entrance to the accommodation they paid for. In addition to this, staff will still be required at these types of machines – such as in airports – to assist people who are having issues or don’t understand how it works. Think about supermarkets with self-service checkouts, they can – at times – cause more problems than they solve.
Once Amex manages to iron out these potential bugs, this new PoP system could be revolutionary. Cutting queue times and making people’s lives much simpler in the process, Amex could really be onto something with this new development. This is even without mentioning the savings businesses could make by implementing the system. When it comes to blockchain, Amex is still miles ahead of its competitors. However, given the recent MasterCard and Visa outages, it certainly won’t be long before its competitors start turning to blockchain technologies in order to keep up.