Amazon has been granted a patent for various techniques to build a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptographic system, interestingly similar to those utilized by blockchains such as bitcoin (BTC).
The said patent was first filed back in December 2016 and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has finally awarded it to Amazon earlier this week on Tuesday. The patent is focused on Merkle trees and outlines how they can be generated as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge, in addition to other benefits.
Since its inception the crypto ecosystem has met tremendous resistance as well as skepticism. But 2019 so far has been the year of massive growth for the crypto industry as several non-financial industrial giants have stepped into the field, with the e-commerce giant Amazon being the newest player in the crypto field.
A Merkle tree is basically a structure that allows for the verification of data that has been sent between two computers and on peer-to-peer networks, like blockchain is used to ensure blocks have not been tampered with or falsified.
On the other hand, the proof-of-work algorithm is employed to protect networks by asking a service participant to do the “work” – in this case, it often involves computer-processing power to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The Bitcoin blockchain uses a PoW algorithm where the work is done by the miners.
The Amazon patent explains that in their case, Merkle tree is the work demanded by the algorithm.
A proof-of-work system where a first party (e.g., a client computer system) may request access to a computing resource. A second party (e.g., a service provider) may determine a challenge that may be provided to the first party. A valid solution to the challenge may be generated and provided for the request to be fulfilled
The mentioned challenge, as the patent explains, may include a message and a seed so that the seed may be used at least in part to cryptographically derive information that may be used to generate a solution to the challenge. A hash tree [or Merkle tree] may be generated to generate the solution.
Moreover, the patent explains how employing the PoW algorithm could potentially help prevent denial-of-service as well as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which frequently target computers.
A denial-of-service attack is a malicious attempt to overwhelm an online service and render it unusable. Meanwhile, a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attack in which multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or other network resource, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource. The patent read:
Requiring a valid proof-of-work may mitigate a DOS or DDOS attack by causing the participants of the DOS or DDOS attack to generate a valid proof-of-work solution, which may require the use of computational resources on the attacking systems and dramatically reduce the rate at which entities participating in the attack may send requests.
The patent, owing to its crypto nature, has ignited rumors about a possible Bitcoin integration among the community. Morgan Creek’s Anthony Pomp even tweeted his excitement about the spread of crypto.
BREAKING: Amazon has filed a patent in the US for a proof-of-work system that leverages cryptography.
There’s not a large company in the world who isn’t going to join the revolution.
THE VIRUS IS SPREADING 🔥
— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) May 16, 2019
However, nowhere does the patent mention cryptocurrency. The patent is purely for a proof-of-work system, which according to reports will presumably play a role in Amazon’s web services division, one of its biggest moneymakers.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Amazon loving crypto community. The platform interacts with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in a number of ways currently. Whole Foods, a company owned by Amazon, does accept payment in cryptocurrencies via the Spedn app, which allows people to pay for products and services on the retail platform using four cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and the Gemini dollar (GUSD).
Crypto payments came to Amazon’s Whole Foods because of the platform’s collaboration with Gemini, a cryptocurrency company owned by the famous Winklevoss twins and Flexa, a payments startup. However, crypto payments haven’t made their way to Amazon’s ecosystem as yet.
At the end of the, day Amazon’s stance with crypto assets remains rather unclear, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the platform does choose to take that road as many prominent names of the industry are launching their own crypto assets. The South Korean tech behemoth Samsung has ventured farther into the cryptoverse by building an Ethereum-based blockchain, which is still in an “internal experimental” stage. The company may launch its own cryptocurrency, fittingly named “Samsung Coin”.
The social media giant Facebook is another prominent name under the crypto limelight these days. Reportedly, it is working on a crypto project, codenamed ‘Libra’ and for which the platform has also acquired a trademark. In addition, earlier in May, news broke that Facebook is seeking investment worth a whopping $1 billion for its rumored cryptocurrency. Reportedly, the platform went as far as holding talks with major payment networks Visa and MasterCard about potential support for its crypto endeavor.
If Amazon does start accepting cryptocurrencies as a legitimate form of payment, it would not only change the face of the world’s largest online retailer but also mean an era of mass adoption of cryptocurrencies by innumerable consumers across the world.