The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by security and technology, and growing importance of technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, and the Internet of Things (IoT). 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 Internet of Things in Retail: User identity blockchain.

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, contactless kiosks and delivery drones are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RFID for inventory tracking, autonomous delivery vehicle navigation system, and contactless card payments are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are M2M payment interfaces and e-commerce robotic process automation, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the retail industry

User identity blockchain is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

IoT and blockchain have several benefits including trust in IoT data, added security, greater flexibility, and efficiency. IoT and blockchain also find many applications that include freight transportation and component tracking and compliance. Blockchain provides a decentralised and scalable environment to IoT platforms, applications, and devices.

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of user identity blockchain.

Key players in user identity blockchain – 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 user identity blockchain

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 1347 Unlock company profile
nChain Holdings 171 Unlock company profile
Licentia Group 129 Unlock company profile
Black Gold Coin 113 Unlock company profile
Ant Group 59 Unlock company profile
Visa 59 Unlock company profile
Toronto-Dominion Bank 40 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 28 Unlock company profile
Universal Secure Registry 27 Unlock company profile
Coinplug 25 Unlock company profile
Security First 24 Unlock company profile
Nok Nok Labs 22 Unlock company profile
Apple 20 Unlock company profile
Proxense 17 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 16 Unlock company profile
Security Matters 15 Unlock company profile
Nasdaq 15 Unlock company profile
Daon 15 Unlock company profile
Ping Identity Holding 14 Unlock company profile
Inveniam Capital Partners 13 Unlock company profile
eBay 11 Unlock company profile
Walmart 11 Unlock company profile
Rivetz 11 Unlock company profile 10 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 10 Unlock company profile
Ntt Docomo 10 Unlock company profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 9 Unlock company profile
Bizmodeline 9 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 8 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 8 Unlock company profile
Code X 8 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Kollakorn 8 Unlock company profile
Anchor Labs 7 Unlock company profile
Intel 7 Unlock company profile
Dragonchain 7 Unlock company profile
NEC 7 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 7 Unlock company profile
Rpx 7 Unlock company profile
Baidu 6 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
Workday 6 Unlock company profile
ServiceNow 6 Unlock company profile
JPMorgan Chase 6 Unlock company profile
Nokia 6 Unlock company profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 6 Unlock company profile
BlackBerry 6 Unlock company profile
bitFlyer 6 Unlock company profile
Circularise 5 Unlock company profile
Fingerprint Cards 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading players in the user identity blockchain for the IoT space in terms of patents filed are SoftBank Group, nChain, Licentia Group, Black Gold Coin, Ant Group, and Visa. Ant Group offers AntChain TaaS (Traceability as a Service), which is a traceability solution combined with IoT that is based on blockchain. TaaS uses IoT technology to connect physical and information flows and stores information in a tamper-proof and immutable manner using blockchain.

Leading players in this space in terms of application diversity are Security Matters, Hitachi, Intel, Baidu, and eBay.

Leading players in terms of geographic reach are Black Gold Coin, Licentia Group, Rivetz, and nChain Holdings.

The storage redundancy brought by blockchain enables additional security and improves data access as users in Internet of Things ecosystems can share and retrieve data from various devices. Using blockchain for IoT data adds an extra layer of security that protects from malicious attackers.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail and Apparel.


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.