The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by regulatory reforms and the growing importance of technologies such as anonymous transaction handling, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and crypto wallets. 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 Cloud in Retail: Anonymous transaction handling.

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.

Biometric authentication, gesture-based user interfaces, and shipping management systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are user biometric authentication and instant messaging social networks, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for cloud in the retail industry

Anonymous transaction handling is a key innovation area in cloud technology

Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, are designed on blockchain technology. The technology provides decentralisation. Digital assets such as these can work independently of any controlling central body. People consider cryptocurrencies untraceable, tamperproof, and anonymous. These are believed to enable anonymous transaction handling.

The transactions on a blockchain are identified only by an alpha-numerical string called a public key. The key renders bitcoin transactions pseudo-anonymous. Blockchain can offer advanced security controls by utilising public key infrastructure for the authentication of parties and the encryption of their communication.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of anonymous transaction handling.

Key players in anonymous transaction handling – 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 anonymous transaction handling

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 326 Unlock company profile
Headwater Research 189 Unlock company profile
Headwater Partners I 180 Unlock company profile
Visa 176 Unlock company profile
Capital One Financial 125 Unlock company profile
Cox Enterprises 121 Unlock company profile
AT&T 58 Unlock company profile
Memjet Technology 58 Unlock company profile
adidas 56 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 42 Unlock company profile 40 Unlock company profile
Apple 34 Unlock company profile
SSenStone 32 Unlock company profile
nChain Holdings 31 Unlock company profile
Technikka Conexion 31 Unlock company profile
Bluefin Payment Systems 30 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 30 Unlock company profile
BCE 28 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 27 Unlock company profile
Universal Secure Registry 27 Unlock company profile
Authentify 25 Unlock company profile
Security First 24 Unlock company profile
MC Familiengesellschaft mbH 24 Unlock company profile
eBay 23 Unlock company profile
Dominion Harbor Enterprises 23 Unlock company profile
Payfone 22 Unlock company profile
Early Warning Services 20 Unlock company profile
Bundesdruckerei 19 Unlock company profile
Proxense 17 Unlock company profile
Ivanti 17 Unlock company profile
Nokia 16 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 16 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 16 Unlock company profile
Bluechain 13 Unlock company profile
Fiserv 12 Unlock company profile
FaceTec 12 Unlock company profile
VeriFone 12 Unlock company profile
Digimarc 12 Unlock company profile
Xiaomi 12 Unlock company profile
Algorand 11 Unlock company profile
Equifax 11 Unlock company profile
Accenture 10 Unlock company profile
Thales 10 Unlock company profile
Charter Pacific 10 Unlock company profile
First Datacorp 10 Unlock company profile
Seven & i Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Ant Group 8 Unlock company profile
Ol Security Liability Company 8 Unlock company profile
Block 8 Unlock company profile
OV Loop 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading players in terms of patents filed in the anonymous transaction handling space are SoftBank Group, Headwater Research, Headwater Partners, and Visa. In October 2022, payment giant Visa filed two trademark applications related to NFTs, the metaverse, and crypto wallets.

In terms of application diversity,  Technikka Conexion, adidas, Dominion Harbor Enterprises, and Cox Enterprises are the leading companies.

In terms of geographic reach, Headwater Partners, Authentify, Early Warning Services, and Huawei Investment & Holding are the top players.

Cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity owing to their promise of privacy, sophisticated encryption, and anonymity. However, it is difficult for cryptocurrencies to assure complete anonymity.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cloud Computing 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.