United States Postal Service Files Patent Application for Blockchain-Based Techs

In promising news concerning government adoption of distributed ledger technology, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is looking to leverage blockchain in order to build a more secure and efficient identification system. This is according to a patent titled “Methods and Systems For A Digital Trust Architecture,” filed yesterday, March 22nd.

The filing reads: “as more of life’s daily interactions move to online activities, it is apparent that the tools that provide trust to the users are lacking in their ability to adequately provide a desired level of security. Tools that have evolved from physical interactions, like face-to-face communication, and the ability to “go there” to resolve issues, are not possible in a digital environment.”

USPS: Trust and Security

As per the application, in an increasingly digitized world, the agency’s current system doesn’t provide the desired levels of trust and security — it specifically cites concerns such as transaction tampering and insecure messaging. In providing a solution to the security and trust issues that plague USPS users, the agency believes that provisioning a secure digital infrastructure will provide a more secure messaging and authentication service. The filing references the use of email as a form of digital signature, but at the same time recognizes the security limitations of these centralized platforms. 

The application reads: “There are many excellent reasons for online interactions to continue as they have been. However, in a multi-party, open source environment, there is also a need for a secure, trusted, and enforceable online environment, to enable greater trust and therefore an expansion of offerings online.”

To combat this, the USPS has proposed a system that leverages blockchain, public and private identification keys, and email integrated into decentralized systems. It also calls for a blockchain component that “may be configured to receive records from the user and add the records to a blockchain.”

Also of note: The Postal Service’s application highlights the use of a “special digital token.” Per the text, the token is used to create a record for the user for inclusion in a blockchain: “The block chaining of a special digital token provides evidence that a specific transaction occurred, and specifically who was involved.”

Yesterday’s application is the first thing to materialize from the Postal Service with regards to blockchain, but it likely won’t be the last: in 2016 a report from the USPS suggested that the mail carrier was considering creating its own cryptocurrency as well as using related technology for supply chain applications.

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