On Sunday, CNBC reported that the world’s largest retailer – Walmart – filed seven applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in December. Those filings outlined Walmart’s plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, NFTs, possible payment system, crypto financial services, and more.
One of the applications specifically mentions Walmart’s plans to create and sell virtual goods such as electronics, home decor, toys, sporting goods, and personal care products. Such digital versions of physical products would make the most sense in a virtual- or augmented-reality setting such as the metaverse.
Additionally, an excerpt from one of the applications had this language regarding Walmart’s proprietary software specifically designed to manage blockchain related coding applications, “Downloadable software for use in managing portfolios of digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital and blockchain assets, digitized assets, digital tokens, crypto tokens, and utility tokens, downloadable software for electronic wallet services, downloadable e-wallets.”
While the ultimate uses of these patent applications are unclear, the blurb description above conveys a lot of the functions most commonly associated with cryptocurrency trading exchanges and crypto financial services.
Interestingly, a Walmart demo video of shopping remotely using a virtual reality headset, complete with Walmart shopping assistant, from five years ago has recently resurfaced and is circulating on social media. The video is a bit disconcerting and oddly isolating, but it fleshes out a metaverse vision that Walmart had years ago — that is being further finetuned with these patent applications. The video also mentioned automated payments using “Walmart Pay” and automated age verification, which could soon occur via a non-fungible token application on the blockchain.
The trademark filings mark the latest exploratory step into the crypto space by the retail giant. In October, the global big-box retailer launched a beta test allowing some customers to buy Bitcoin at Coinstar kiosks in some of its U.S. stores. The pilot program uses 200 Coinstar machines which allow users to convert coins into gift cards or bills.