US investment banking giant JP Morgan has moved in to patent payment technology ideas popularised by the "alternative currency" Bitcoin.
It has filed for a patent for what it calls a "virtual cash" system, in which it intends to allow customers to make payments "completely anonymously" with the added bonus of avoiding the "expense of today's wiring fees".
JP Morgan confidently stated in its application that "none of the emerging efforts to date have gotten more than a toehold in the market place and momentum continues to build in favour of credit cards", which it says will still have dominance of the payments industry for the next five years.
Lack of necessary credit checks, the use of a method that means payers "push" funds rather than recipients "pull" them from their accounts, and the ease of use of large-value payments are also listed as advantages in JP Morgan's application.
The patent application also states that "to date, there is no efficient way for consumers to make payments to other consumers using the Internet", which can come across as a sweeping criticism of Bitcoin's efforts so far.
The value of Bitcoins has risen by three times since October, and analysts are now beginning to suggest that the currency may soon take on the equivalent value of silver, or assume a role as a reserve store of value, like gold.
However, there is still disagreement over whether Bitcoin should now - or will ever - seriously be considered a true currency in itself.
JP Morgan's patents, furthermore, have also put the US intellectual property law system under scrutiny, with many people criticising it for the ease with which people and organisations can claim ownership over simple ideas.
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