Retailer Walmart is the latest entity to move into the cryptocurrency space with the filing of a patent application for a Walmart currency.
In its application, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday, August 1, Walmart Apollo (which owns the ‘Walmart.com’ trademark) describes how the digital currency would be tied to the US currency.
The currency, which will be built on the blockchain, can provide a “fee-free, or fee-minimal place to store wealth” that can be spent at retailers and, if needed, easily converted to cash.
“Using a digital currency, low-income households that find banking expensive, may have an alternative way to handle wealth at an institution that can supply the majority of their day-to-day financial and product needs,” said the filing.
Walmart added that, in some embodiments, the digital currency may also remove the need for credit and debit cards with a person being the “credit card” to their own digital value bank.
The retailer goes even further, claiming that the invention may provide an open-platform value exchange for purchases and for crowdsource work.
It also proposes that the cryptocurrency could store customers’ purchasing history on the blockchain, applying savings to subsequent purchases.
Walmart goes on to allege that the digital currency could be used to restrict what product categories are allowed to be bought and by whom.
“As an example of the set of rules, for example, in government assistance and dependent care, a government-assistance restricted currency may be good for food or even certain types of food but not alcohol or cigarettes,” said the filing.
Walmart already uses blockchain technology—it partnered with IBM last year to track food globally through its supply chain and improve food safety.
Sister-site LSIPR has also reported that the Food and Drug Administration had selected Walmart, along with Merck & Co, IBM, and KPMG to form a pilot project aimed at evaluating the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity.
Social media company Facebook has also set its sights on cryptocurrency. In June 2019, Facebook announced that its newly-formed subsidiary Calibra would introduce is a digital wallet for Libra, a new global currency powered by blockchain technology.
However, in its second-quarter earnings release, Facebook told investors that, while it expects Libra to launch next year, certain factors may prevent its release.
“Libra is based on relatively new and unproven technology, and the laws and regulations surrounding digital currency are uncertain and evolving. Libra has drawn significant scrutiny from governments and regulators in multiple jurisdictions and we expect that scrutiny to continue,” said the report.
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