Walmart Files Patent Application Effectively New Mobile Payments Tool in a Crypto Coin
It’s not specifically called “WalmartCoin” yet, but that’s the phrase that’s getting bandied around on more than one front. A recently-filed application with the US Patent and Trademark Office makes it clear that Walmart wants a shot at the cryptocurrency market, and is planning to follow in Facebook’s steps with Libra to get there.
The crypto in question—as yet officially unnamed—is said to be blockchain-backed, and aside from that, little else is known about it as this is a patent application. Anyone who follows patents knows full well that many patents never see the light of day as actual products; just look at the track record that Apple’s had in terms of patents that never actually turn into products.
Similarities are already emerging between Libra and this hypothetical WalmartCoin. Perhaps the biggest is that WalmartCoin will be a stablecoin, using the US dollar as its basis. It’s being touted as a way to reach the unbanked or underbanked, and give them more ways to pay their tab at Walmart. Such a move, ostensibly, would allow these customers better access to Walmart-related goods and services without the fees and such that banks have been known to assess.
There are also reports that the WalmartCoin will have a direct connection to rewards and loyalty programs, and potentially even a shot at generating interest. Park your WalmartCoin with Walmart and make WalmartCoin, I guess?
The big difference between Libra and WalmartCoin is that WalmartCoin is meant to be pretty much entirely usable within Walmart. You can’t very well take your WalmartCoin to Applebee’s and expect to walk out with chicken fingers. No, you’ll walk out of the room on a wave of laughter because Applebee’s cares about your WalmartCoin about as much as it cares about yen. At least, in the US. That’s likely to make it a lot less feared by regulators—in fact, it brings to mind the concept of “scrip” that was popular during the Great Depression when cash was just that hard to come by—and as long as Walmart doesn’t plan to start paying employees in WalmartCoin, everything should be all right here.
Only time will tell how governments take this concept, but WalmartCoin—whatever it’s ultimately called—may come out all right on the other side.