The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by regulatory reforms and risk mitigation, and the growing importance of technologies such as QR codes, RFID technology, and augmented reality. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Cybersecurity: Blockchain payments. 

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, smart contracts and transaction data blockchain are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Biometric authentication, biometric payments, and blockchain payments are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are user biometric authentication and e-commerce robotic process automation, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for cybersecurity in the retail industry 

Blockchain payments is a key innovation area in cybersecurity 

A blockchain payment system is a payment method through a blockchain or distributed ledger system that helps to facilitate and process transactions as well as verify them. These systems can be used by individuals, businesses, or financial institutions and offer a way for faster and smoother crypto payments and transactions.   

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of blockchain payments. 

Key players in blockchain payments – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to blockchain payments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 558 Unlock company profile
nChain Holdings 434 Unlock company profile
Headwater Research 189 Unlock company profile
Headwater Partners I 180 Unlock company profile
Licentia Group 131 Unlock company profile
Black Gold Coin 113 Unlock company profile
Visa 99 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 47 Unlock company profile
Toronto-Dominion Bank 42 Unlock company profile
Illumio 39 Unlock company profile
Overstock.com 38 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 34 Unlock company profile
ServiceNow 31 Unlock company profile
Digital Asset Holdings 31 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 30 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 28 Unlock company profile
Universal Secure Registry 27 Unlock company profile
Oracle 27 Unlock company profile
Civic Technologies 25 Unlock company profile
Security First 24 Unlock company profile
SSenStone 22 Unlock company profile
Nok Nok Labs 22 Unlock company profile
JPMorgan Chase 20 Unlock company profile
Algorand 20 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 20 Unlock company profile
Capital One Financial 18 Unlock company profile
Apple 18 Unlock company profile
Walmart 18 Unlock company profile
Proxense 17 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 16 Unlock company profile
Fiserv 15 Unlock company profile
Inveniam Capital Partners 14 Unlock company profile
Coinplug 14 Unlock company profile
Ping Identity Holding 14 Unlock company profile
Trident Trust Company (BVI) 14 Unlock company profile
Dominion Harbor Enterprises 14 Unlock company profile
Ballet Global 13 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 13 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 13 Unlock company profile
eBay 11 Unlock company profile
Securrency 10 Unlock company profile
Nokia 10 Unlock company profile
Charter Pacific 10 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 10 Unlock company profile
Worldline 9 Unlock company profile
BanQu 9 Unlock company profile
Security Matters 8 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 8 Unlock company profile
Kudelski 8 Unlock company profile
Code X 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SoftBank Group is one of the leading patent filers in blockchain payments. Some other key patent filers in the space include nChain Holdings, Headwater Research, Headwater Partners I, and Licentia Group. nChain Holdings and eLivestock Global (ELG) entered a partnership in October 2022 to launch a cattle traceability platform with the help of the former’s blockchain solutions. The platform will help to ensure that livestock are healthier, and farmers are able to sustain and secure their livelihood. 

In terms of application diversity, Kudelski leads the pack. Hitachi and Proxense stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Black Gold Coin held the top position, followed by Licentia Group and Headwater Partners I

Blockchain payments will potentially become the approach favoured by many future retail players. The increasing use of this technology will provide more convenience and security to both customers and retailers. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cybersecurity in Retail

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.