American Express Eyes Blockchain for Customer Rewards Systems

The travel and merchant arm of American Express may be weighing the use of blockchain within a personalized customer rewards system, public filings show.

A new patent application published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office details a concept for offering customer-specific types of rewards (including points, a virtual currency or specific items tied to a product). The filing indicates the financial giant would make these offers by compiling personalized data about the customer, such as their historic spending patterns.

The application cites the tech as one resource for storing and updating information among a number of possible approaches, detailing:

“The blockchain structure may include a distributed database that maintains a growing list of data records. The blockchain may provide enhanced security because each block may hold individual transactions and the results of any blockchain executables. Each block may contain a timestamp and a link to a previous block.”

That the firm would move to seek intellectual property claims around uses of the tech is perhaps unsurprising, given the interest around it by some of the credit card provider’s competitors. American Express is currently a member of the Hyperledger blockchain consortium and, when it joined in January, the company suggested that it would look to blockchain as a way to potentially rework its current services.

“We’re excited to join Hyperledger, as we’re looking to take full advantage of blockchain to deliver new and innovative products for our customers and partners, while transforming existing business processes and applications,” Amex chief information officer Marc Gordon said at the time.