(Credit: Montri Nipitvittaya/Shutterstock.com)
(Credit: Montri Nipitvittaya/Shutterstock.com)

As financial technology continues to take off at lightning speed, apparently so do fintech patent filings.

An analysis published Tuesday from London law firm EMW shows a drastic spike in global patent filings related to fintech in 2016 compared to 2015. Last year, the number of fintech filings totaled 9,545—500 more applications than the year prior.

The number of fintech patent filings was up by 49 percent from five years earlier in 2011, when there were 6,399 filings, according to EMW’s research sourced from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

“The surge in patents reflects both the proliferation of startups bringing new technology and products to market over the last few years, as well as investment by more traditional financial services firms in an effort to remain relevant and retain market share,” Felix Dodd, senior solicitor for EMW, said in a blog post discussing the firm’s findings.

One area for fintech patents, EMW found, is artificial intelligence, specifically ideas that enable users to highlight risks in real time by picking up suspicious or abnormal activities through predictive models. EMW’s other examples of fintech applications were for tools providing services for cryptocurrency or other digital currency, including bitcoin trading platforms and bitcoin storage services, as well as new methods for managing e-money and digital wallets.

According to U.K. news website City A.M., the United States filed the most fintech patents with 4,523 last year. This was twice as many filings as China, the country with the second highest number of patents in this space. Korea had the next highest number of filings.

In January, IPWatchdog published an article indicating that Visa and Mastercard hold the most fintech patented inventions, Visa with 327 and Mastercard with 308.

“We expect the number of patents to continue to rise, with levels of innovation showing no signs of slowing,” EMW’s Dodd wrote in his post.