The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Bank of America 227 patents between January and June — a company record for the first half of any year, the bank said in a press release Thursday.
The recently patented technology encompasses "artificial intelligence, machine learning, information security, data analytics, mobile banking and payments."
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC last month, "we are a technology company," and that technological innovation "allows us to make the company better for customers and better in terms of operations."
Bank of America is typically a patent powerhouse. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received 4,943 patents since 1998. More than 6,000 individuals from 42 states and 13 countries have contributed to the bank’s inventions — and the bank is directing firepower into innovative technology to compete with fintechs.
The 227 patents the bank received during the first half of 2021 — out of 403 for which it applied — represent a 23% increase from the same time period last year, when the bank set its previous record of 184 patents.
Unlike some other large banks, Bank of America does not have an internal innovation lab. The company has instead adopted a decentralized approach to innovation. "Rather than have a central group of people to think through innovation in ways to help support our clients and come forward with creative solutions to their problems, we choose to have more of a federated model, where we empower all of our employees across the workforce," Cameron Wadley, the bank's chief operating officer for client-facing platforms technology, told Banking Dive last year.
Bank of America’s 2021 patents include artificial intelligence integration with the bank’s telephone interactive voice response system, robotic process automation to track event case processing performance, and "integration of an augmented reality device with a customer’s mobile wallet to allow the execution of electronic transactions."
Together, artificial intelligence and machine learning accounted for 40% of patents granted in the first half of 2021. About 21% of patents were connected to mobile and consumer banking, and 16% to information security.
"We’re in a period of unprecedented change, and as any great company knows, delivering for customers and clients requires a strong focus on innovation," Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s chief technology officer, said in Thursday's press release. "The culture we’ve created at Bank of America is immensely creative and forward looking, driving solutions that make our clients’ financial lives better."
Bessant’s tech team has a yearly $14 billion budget, according to Bloomberg. About $10 billion of that is spent on purchasing technology, and $3 billion is earmarked for innovations.