To store payment data, Walmart may be looking to the blockchain. The retailer drafted two patent applications that reference a platform powered by blockchain technology for vendor payments and digital shopping, CoinDesk reported.
The applications were initially filed in October of 2017, reportedly drafted by the same team at Walmart. While the retailer wants to give customers access to their own payment histories through the applications, it doesn’t want to give the same type of access to third parties.
In the first patent application, the Walmart team references a vendor payment system that would “automatically process payment for a total amount due for the products and services related to obtaining and delivering ... products.” It would encrypt and divide the payment using blockchain technology. Beyond vendor payments, the Walmart team described a digital shopping system that also uses the blockchain to encrypt payment data.
The news comes about a month after Walmart, which is competing with Amazon on multiple fronts, revealed a blockchain initiative. Digital Journal reported in March that Walmart plans to launch a blockchain-based shipping solution to enable product tracking, citing a patent filing by the company for a “smart package.”
“Many customers shop online for various reasons, [including] ease of shopping, comfort of shopping, to save time and any number of other reasons that customers have for shopping online,” Walmart said in the filing. “These online customers many times seek to purchase items that may require a controlled environment and further seek to have greater security in the shipping packaging … current shipping packaging does not provide for such desired functionality.”
Reports said Walmart was likely to develop its own blockchain platform to enable tracking of these “smart packages.” This comes about two years after reports surfaced that Walmart was testing the blockchain in the grocery aisle. According to Bloomberg, sliced apples and cut broccoli were used to test a blockchain database technology.