Walmart registered a patent for online purchase and payment of products using the blockchain technology.
The document presented to the United States Patent and Trademark Office defines diverse methods that the shoppers can use to purchase products from Walmart, both in-person at the store or online. In particular, when making purchases online, the possibilities for purchase are reduced according to more specific requests of the shopper. The new system is designed to tackle the following problem: “The present inventive concepts provide a system for customers to have the convenience of ordering online while still have the selectability of in store shopping by utilizing and managing courier system. As part of the courier system, the present inventive concepts include a vendor payment sharing system. The vendor payment sharing system and method in accordance with some embodiments permits a user to make one payment that is then encrypted and shared with multiple vendors that worked together to fulfill an order by a customer.”
The integrated payment system help the shoppers to choose more specifically their products and one the payment is completed, the order is automatically distributed between the employees or sellers from Walmart in charge for those products. This process is made possible by the blockchain technology and the network used by Walmart will be based on the Proof-of-Work (PoW) system.
Sometimes, for example, the shopper does not have the possibility to access certain products when shopping online or does not have access to information such as the date of expiration if we are talking about food, or the date of packaging, information about the origin of a certain products, etc. Walmart says it is difficult to know the preferences of a client, which is why the company mentions the possibility to get closer to the shoppers by using diverse methods: “Information regarding a given person’s partialities can be acquired using any one or more of a variety of information-gathering and/or analytical approaches. By one simple approach, a person may voluntarily disclose information regarding their partialities (for example, in response to an online questionnaire or survey or as part of their social media presence). By another approach, the purchasing history for a given person can be analyzed to intuit the partialities that led to at least some of those purchases. By yet another approach demographic information regarding a particular person can serve as yet another source that sheds light on their partialities. Other ways that people reveal how they order their lives include but are not limited to: (1) their social networking profiles and behaviors (such as the things they “like” via Facebook, the images they post via Pinterest, informal and formal comments they initiate or otherwise provide in response to third-party postings including statements regarding their own personal long-term goals, the persons/topics they follow via Twitter, the photographs they publish via Picasso, and so forth); (2) their Internet surfing history; (3) their on-line or otherwise-published affinity-based memberships; (4) real-time (or delayed) information (such as steps walked, calories burned, geographic location, activities experienced, and so forth) from any of a variety of personal sensors (such as smart phones, tablet/pad-styled computers, fitness wearables, Global Positioning System devices, and so forth) and the so-called Internet of Things (such as smart refrigerators and pantries, entertainment and information platforms, exercise and sporting equipment, and so forth); (5) instructions, selections, and other inputs (including inputs that occur within augmented-reality user environments) made by a person via any of a variety of interactive interfaces (such as keyboards and cursor control devices, voice recognition, gesture-based controls, and eye tracking-based controls), and so forth.”
The patent further exemplifies that it would be possible to establish a profile of the shopper based on things such as his or her browsing history, affinities and information from certain devices that provide information about the number of steps a person is taking every day, burnt calories, etc. The patent does not explain how the company would obtain this information.
It is possible that Walmart is already building a shopping history of each user with the goal of creating a better profile of the users’ interests, even though the blockchain system explained in the patent includes the reciprocity and communication with the client.
The system proposed by Walmart will register information in a blockchain network, which will provide security, immutability, transparency and other benefits of this innovative and revolutionary technology. When it comes to the automatization in the distribution of payment, the patent does not specify if Walmart would use a mechanism such as the smart contracts. Moreover, it is still unknown whether the company would use its own blockchain network or the already existing one from another project.
Walmart is working with the blockchain technology for some time now, but this time the company is talking about integrating this technology into its physical stores and online store, which could present a milestone in the industry. Previously, Walmart announced the success of it pilot program for tracking the origin of foods and applied a patent for smart packages, where the seller, the buyer, the product and other data are registered in a blockchain network to increase the efficiency of the entire process.