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Walmart submitted a patent application on August 1 that would presumably help the retail giant to generate its own cryptocurrency and a blockchain network. The digital currency’s goal is to make transactions cheaper, quicker and to possibly serve as an easier banking solution for consumers.
The patent refers to a hypothetical “currency micromarket,” defined as “an unattended retail environment in which consumers can buy products from open shelves, coolers or freezers and use a self-checkout kiosk to pay for their products.”
Essentially, Walmart aims to boost its profit by reducing transaction costs when customers use credit or debit cards that the company pays to conventional payment companies such as Visa and MasterCard.
According to the patent application:
”Customers without traditional bank accounts can create a microbank at an institution such as a retailer, which gains interest while their money is there. A customer buys digital currency, such as at the beginning of a month.”
Walmart seeks to use artificial intelligence to help customers to buy the right amount according to his budget, values, affinities, and preferences. The issuing process for these Walmart digital coins is for a simple fiat-to-crypto purchases. The principle is that Walmart holds the cryptocurrency, which is linked to particular clients. Walmart says in the patent that these Walmart coin’s accounts might even earn interest for customers.
The project looks to be another possible opportunity for the retail chain giants to expand their empire in the financial sector since the company didn’t succeed in entering this arena. The company applied for a banking license back in Utah in 2005, which was rejected a couple of years later because of a strong opposition from different banking institutions. However, the company still provides banking services in Canada and Mexico.
Strong Opposition to Cryptocurrency Initiatives
Like the cryptocurrency of Facebook, Libra, Walmart’s new crypto project is likely to be perceived as controversial and take a hit from lawmakers in different parts of the world. As we have seen before, many different governmental and non-governmental organizations are concerned about the use of cryptocurrencies for evil purposes such as money laundering and funding for terrorism.
These concerns are pressurizing institutions pursuing crypto ventures and blockchain developments to introduce centralized regulation in a decentralized and unregulated blockchain system. Some of the reasons why Facebook even suggested it might not even launch Libra (which, to be fair, seems more like an empty threat).
On the other hand, there are many other organizations that see a future in blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Libra and were happily involved in cryptocurrency development. But unlike Facebook, Walmart may not be currently looking to involve anymore partners in the project due to sour past experience. Frankly, this might be the right move to take in the current global wave of anti-cryptocurrency regulations.
But in spite of the opposition, the journey towards commercial usage of cryptocurrencies is getting mainstream day by day. After many different organizations such as Facebook with Libra and AT&T launching its own blockchain solutions and accepting Bitcoin via BitPay, the idea of using cryptocurrencies and blockchain is becoming an acceptable global concept gradually.