October 23, 2019
A recent patent filing by Walmart Inc. (“Walmart”) indicates that the retail giant may be interested in marketing its own cryptocurrency, joining Facebook Inc.’s Libra.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently published Walmart’s application to patent a method to use a digital coin tied to the value of a traditional fiat currency. Such coins are known as “stablecoins”.
While a spokesman for Walmart reportedly said that the company “[did not] have any plans for this patent at this time”, Walmart is already using blockchain to track produce along its supply chain, and the proposed patent could further the use of digital ledgers at Walmart locations. Walmart’s proposed currency could be used to make purchases at retailers, storing transaction information on a blockchain and overlaying that record with the customer’s purchase history, savings and loyalty information.
Industry professionals have speculated that Walmart may be interested in marketing its own cryptocurrency “as a customer vehicle in place of card payments” in order to produce significant cost savings to Walmart on the fees and surcharges associated with the use of credit and debit cards. Walmart’s patent application acknowledges that digital currency could drastically change the point-of-sale experience, disclosing that “[i]n some embodiments, digital currency may remove credit and debit cards without requiring cash by offering a blockchain-protected digital currency”.
Authors: Sarah Stothart and Duncan Lurie