Filipino blockchain architect one of IBM’s inventors

AMERICAN technology colossus IBM has been a leader in patents and advancing technology to improve our lives. According to the IFI Claims Patent Services, IBM emerged as the top producer with more than 9,200 patents in 2019, the highest number of patents.

One of the inventors cited by IBM is a
Filipino. Alexis Pantoja, a blockchain architect based in the Philippines, is
one of 8,500 recipients of the IBM inventors who has been granted a US patent
for his work on “Managing a Database Management System using a Blockchain
Database.” The inventors came from 45 different US states and 54 countries.

In a recent e-mail interview, Pantoja told BusinessMirror that he is proud of the
milestone and hopes the innovations would become commercial products that will
be available in the Philippines someday.

Pantoja recalled that his work started when
he joined IBM in 2015. Realizing that his interest was on IT security, his
manager encouraged him to work on blockchain because it was related to
security. “My manager was aware of my interest in the field of IT security.
Since blockchain is very much related to security and was an emerging
technology back then, he told me to lead the research on blockchain,”  Pantoja said.

In his project, Pantoja and his team thought
of a way for banks to enjoy the benefits offered by blockchain without the need
to migrate the traditional database to blockchain.  They wanted banks to use blockchain as part
of an incorruptible tampering detection mechanism.

“So that whenever a client performs a
transaction [e.g., fund transfer], it does two things: it updates the record in
the banks traditional database and it informs the blockchain of this
transaction [i.e., only the hash of the transaction is saved in the blockchain
to enforce privacy],” he said.

Pantoja pointed out that blockchain is
designed to be secure that only the client can update his or her transactions.”
Not even the administrator of the blockchain can create ‘fake’ transactions on
behalf of the client,” he said.

He pointed out that blockchain will not and
cannot be updated if it is performed by an unauthorized individual. “Even the
administrators/custodians of the blockchain database cannot tamper with the
accounts of their clients, which will increase the trust between the clients
and the bank,” he said.

Pantoja sees a huge potential in blockchain
technology which can be applied across industry networks in the Philippines,
including banking and financial services.

“In concept, we think the idea we have is sound. However,
we need to find a way to make it practical to use. Although it is not a
requirement in filing for a patent, the details on how to address privacy is a
challenge to us. If we don’t address privacy, the system will be practically
unusable since no bank will use a system that will compromise the privacy of
its client,” he explained.

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