The number of patents being filed for financial technology have jumped amid an "arms race" between fintech startups and banks, new figures reveal.
Global fintech patents have grown by 49 per cent in the past five years, reaching 9,545 in 2016 according to official global filings.
“The surge in patents reflects both the proliferation of startups bringing new technology and products to market over the last few years, as well as investment by more traditional financial services firms in an effort to remain relevant and retain market share," said Felix Dodd of commercial law firm EMW which compiled the figures.
"We are seeing a change in the way consumers access services across the board, including banking, investment management, insurance and financial advice," he said.
The US led the way in terms of numbers of fintech patents with 4,523, more than double the number of the next country, China. The UK boasted more fintech patents than any other country in Europe, ranking seventh with 89 patents, in areas such as banking, exchanges, investment, insurance and payments architecture.
Financial institutions making filings originating in the UK last year include Barclays, Bank of America, Visa and Mastercard as well as Vodafone, IBM and Monitise. Areas of technology included voice biometrics, digital currencies and identity verification.
“We expect the number of patents to continue to rise, with levels of innovation showing no signs of slowing," said Dodd.
Overall, patents across the board hit an all-time high in 2016, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). “In an interlinked, knowledge-based global economy, creators and innovators are increasingly relying on intellectual property to promote and protect their competitive edge around the world,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry.
And a separate report on blockchain patents from law firm Reed Smith suggested the number has roughly doubled since the beginning of 2016.
Accenture hit headlines when it was revealed the consultancy firm had patented a prototype for an "editable" blockchain. And Goldman Sachs' first blockchain-related patent was revealed as a process financial transactions in the foreign exchange market using the distributed ledger technology (DLT).