It looks like retail giant Walmart is also considering a high-profile foray into the stablecoin arena with a fiat-pegged cryptocurrency.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a patent on August 1st assigned to Walmart for a “system and method of digital currency via blockchain.”
If actualized, the stablecoin could seemingly be rolled out in various or select elements of the retailer’s operations. The application said the cryptocurrency could be used for a wide range of features, like “overlaying the one digital currency unit with customer purchase history” and using the stablecoin in customer savings programs.
Notably, in the patent the company said its definition of digital currencies included “virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies,” unlike some other enterprises who have flirted with blockchain in recent years but shied away from the “cryptocurrency” moniker.
Cryptoeconomy proponents will also be pleased that Walmart, which has nearly 12,000 stores worldwide, went further in its patent than many others in the mainstream have gone, having argued therein that digital currencies are both money and a unit of account:
“Like physical money, digital currencies may be used to buy any physical goods and services, but may also be restricted to certain communities and certain items that can be purchased. Digital currency may also a money balance recorded electronically on a stored-value card or other devices. Digital currency may allow for the transfer of value on computer networks, such as the Internet. Further digital currency can either be centralized, or decentralized.”
Walmart is no stranger to the blockchain space. Specifically, the company has explored various supply chain uses cases for the fledgling tech in recent years, so it’s obviously beyond the basics.
As for why Walmart is considering a cryptocurrency now, Facebook’s proposed Libra “basketcoin” — which would be aimed at serving billions, not millions — seems to be a catalyst.
When Facebook formally unveiled the Libra, they hailed the project as a means to help the globe’s many unbanked peoples, insofar as the fiat-pegged cryptocurrency could provide these users easier and faster access to modern finance in ways traditional institutions currently can’t.
That vision may have rubbed off on Walmart, as their cryptocurrency patent filing said the proposed digital currency could provide some of its customers with the majority of their financial needs:
“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.”
In the weeks after the Libra announcement, Facebook received a massive wave of regulatory backlash, namely over concerns the company is a major privacy abuser and too large to mint its own money. Accordingly, the company has since conceded Libra may never see the light of day.
Walmart’s cryptocurrency seems similarly if not more modestly envisioned, though the enterprise has nowhere near the amount of regulatory baggage that Facebook is facing right now. In that light, there is a non-zero chance that Walmart might have its digital currency out before Facebook ever can. That remains to be seen, however.
Also Influenced by Facebook? PBoC
The the People’s Bank of China, the Asian powerhouse’s central bank, published a statement on August 2nd declaring that the institution was preparing to vamp up the creation of a government-backed cryptocurrency.
The announcement comes after PBoC’s research division head Wang Xin publicly commented back in July that the bank was exploring such a cryptocurrency over concerns that the Facebook Libra project would be too centered on the U.S. dollar.
“There would be in essence one boss, that is the U.S. dollar and the United States,” Xin said.