At long last, regulators are taking note of the cryptocurrency space. The launch of Libra proverbially lit a fire under the derrieres of the world’s governments, many of which have disregarded Bitcoin and other digital assets, despite their massive bouts of growth over the past decade.
While Libra is truly an innovation that has the potential to revolutionize the economy, governments have quickly expressed distaste towards the project, which is also backed by PayPal, Visa, Booking Holdings, Coinbase, and more.
President Donald Trump vehemently came out against the proposed cryptocurrency, perpetuating his anti-Facebook (and anti-big tech) stance, as did the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
But interestingly, experts say that similar projects from other behemoths of corporations will not face as much regulatory heat.
Walmart Files Patent Mentioning “Cryptocurrency”
Last week, Walmart quietly filed a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. While the retailer likely files dozens, if not hundreds of patents each and every month, the content of this certain patent was of interest to the cryptocurrency industry.
The patent is for a “system and method of digital currency via blockchain”, which would back a presumably U.S. Dollar-backed stablecoin that can be deployed to Walmart’s facets. One feature mentioned would be for the cryptocurrency, let’s call it WalmartCoin, to be used as a potential reward in Walmart’s customer savings programs.
It is important to note that there’s a chance that this patent is nothing more than a corporate strategy or marketing ploy. Over the years, firms like Nike, Kodak, and Amazon have filed blockchain-related patents or made references to cryptocurrencies, but have yet to actually announce any intentions to make a bonafide sortie into the industry.
A Controversial Play?
With there being so much pressure on the cryptocurrency space, many have been left wondering if Walmart’s potential project will end up just like Libra — in the scopes of the world’s most powerful entities, governments, and bodies.
According to a research note obtained by Bloomberg from Cowen, a financial services firm, it isn’t all too likely. In fact, analysts at the firm suggest that as WalmartCoin doesn’t share the same “global intentions” as Libra, which is slated to be rolled out to dozens of countries and backed by a basket of sovereign currencies, it may actually strike a chord with some politicians in America.
Cowen wrote that Walmart may “especially appeal to Democrats”, which are looking to promote the provision of financial services to the unbanked/underbanked.
Not Walmart’s First Blockchain Rodeo
If the retail giant ends up launching a cryptocurrency, that won’t be its first rodeo in the blockchain industry. Far from, in fact.
As reported by Blockonomi earlier this year, Walmart’s division in China, which presides over 424 retail stores and a handful of corporate warehouses in the nation, joined hands with VeChain. Through this partnership, unveiled at a Chinese conference for product safety and traceability, the consortium is tracking an unnamed 23 “product lines” through blockchain.
By the end of 2020 — just under 18 months away — the collective wants to trace 50% of packaged fresh meat, 40% of packaged vegetables, and 12.5% of packaged seafood that Walmart China sells through blockchain technologies.
The idea is to integrate a “traceability strategy for products and pioneer the large-scale application of blockchain traceability.” that will give consumers some peace of mind when purchasing products, which is especially important in China, where fake products are rampant and actually dangerous.
Walmart has entered similar initiatives around the world, mostly teaming up with the extremely blockchain-friendly technology giant IBM to test out blockchain supply chain and food safety solutions.