Insights & Analyses

Fidelity sees blockchain technology ensuring fair elections

February 22, 2017

In a new twist on the versatility of blockchain authentication, investment firm Fidelity has filed a patent describing how the technology could be used in elections in a process dubbed “crypto-voting.”

Fidelity’s application was revealed in a filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week, first discovered by CoinDesk. It describes a system that would include both voter authentication and vote tabulating and processing, all through a crypto user interface and a blockchain oracle.

The filing notes that such a voting system could be advantageous in underdeveloped countries, where voting systems may not be advanced and where the likelihood of voting fraud is higher.

“By using a blockchain technology, an immutable ledger is created that records the votes of each citizen,” the patent application states. “The record would allow for unique identification of each voting individual and allow for a tabulation of votes.”

Fidelity has been an advocate of blockchain for years, and has been hiring up blockchain developers as it sees the technology playing a key role in the financial sector. The privately held American company manages more than $2 trillion in assets, making it one of the largest investment firms in the world.

Photo via Wikipedia.

Both voting and finances are two key issues facing developing countries, particularly in locations without proper methods of identification. In fact, in nations like Malawi, residents have been turning to state-issued voter IDs to prove their citizenship, because the country has lacked a national identification card. Malawi officials hope they will be able to register more than half of the nation’s population in the first phase of its upcoming ID program.

In its initial form, blockchain has been a decentralized, secure way of authorizing transactions online. But the future of blockchain is expected to become more specialized, advanced, and tailored to individual needs.

Beyond finances and even voting, another use for blockchain is in the medical field, where proponents believe it could be used to allow secure transfer of medical data. IBM Watson Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been working to that end on a new project, the findings from which will be revealed later this year.