Filed last September, but surfacing March 22, 2018, a United States Postal Service (USPS) patent application, titled Methods and Systems for a Digital Trust Architecture, describes the agency's interest in blockchain technology.
Specifically, the patent application deals overwhelmingly with the notion of digital data security and the creation of secure messaging and authentication services:
"Users of digital transactions in general may have several concerns, including a lack of confidence that the true parties to a transaction are known, an inability to know if a transaction has been tampered with, and uncertainty that the communication channel is secure. These shortcomings are largely the results of an environment having no consistent architecture designed for establishing an enforceable trust in a digital environment."
A system implementing a "digital trust architecture" would be comprised of "a user account enrollment and verification component, a key provisioning component, a user email component, a data access component, and a block chain component."
This USPS Patent Could Be Significant
At first glance, blockchain solutions for digital transactions might seem like a desperate grab by the USPS. However, a constitutional mandate places the issue of security squarely in the agency's crosshairs.
Historically, much of the trust associated with sending something through the mail was generated by USPS employees. By enabling trust in digital mechanisms and systems, the postal service is reaffirming its mandate in the digital age.
As described in the patent, "The disclosed systems and methods enable secure, end to end encrypted email and similar digital or electronic communications. This enables a high level of trust in the integrity of digital content."
The patent application further describes how "a special digital token" could be used as part of a "provisioning" step to interact with the proposed "secure digital infrastructure." It is possible that the patent refers to "PostCoin."
Per the application:
"The trust architecture verifier uses its private key to sign the user's signature to create a special digital token. The token is used to create a record for the user for inclusion in a block chain … in some aspects, the system may provide configuration setting that enables the special digital token to be sent to one or more specified block chains."