Inventors at Bank of America Corp. kept originating ideas, leading to a record-setting first half of the year, even while continuing to work from home.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the lender 227 patents in the first six months of 2021, up 23% from a year earlier, Bank of America said in a statement Thursday. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company set its previous patent record in the first half of last year, when it was granted 184 amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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, the company’s chief operations and technology officer, said in the statement. “The culture we’ve created at Bank of America is immensely creative and forward-looking.”
Bessant leads a technology team at Bank of America with a $14 billion budget. The company spends $10 billion of that on technology each year, $3 billion of which is set aside for new innovations, according to a spokesperson for the bank. For 2021, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan increased the new-initiative budget to $3.4 billion.
About 40% the patents granted to Bank of America in the first half of the year relate to artificial intelligence or machine learning. The firm also pursued new technology related to blockchain, payment technology and data mining and analytics. The bank said it applied for a total of 722 patents last year, despite 85% of employees working from home during the pandemic, and was granted a record 444.
One of Bank of America’s inventors, Manu Kurian, has filed more than 360 patents since 2014. A senior vice president in the firm’s global banking technology division, Kurian ranks among the top 300 patent holders in the world, with more than 220 granted to date.
During the pandemic, “the team was able to grow the interaction with our clients to become more digital, while maintaining the high-touch experience,” Kurian said in an interview. He develops patents related to data and optimization, connecting clients across key segments of the bank. “We always had continuous improvement, but there has been more integration.”
The bank has received or applied for a total of 4,943 patents, stemming from the work of almost 6,000 inventors in 42 U.S. states and 13 countries. Its patents are often cited by other inventors, Bank of America said, with more than 2,800 patents and applications from a range of industries, including technology, citing the lender’s patents so far this year.