Walmart starts the future of Deliverychain
You did, in fact, read that correctly. It was reported yesterday that Walmart filed a very particular Blockchain patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year. The existence of this particular patent wasn’t actually made public until this Thursday.
The language of the patent is a bit confusing and Walmart’s aims with it are a bit vague. Where can connections between Walmart and the Blockchain actually be made?
To begin, according to an original report on this application by Coin Desk, Walmart spends quite a long time dancing around mentioning the blockchain until later on in the submitted files. The link that was given by Coin Desk that purportedly should show the original patent application in its entirety, only shows a brief abstract including a diagram of the technology that Walmart aspires to have.
From this diagram and the few sentence abstract that surrounds it, it is difficult to make any concrete conclusions. It’s actually quite difficult to state anything beyond suppositions based on a small amount of facts. Overall, there is no explicit mention of the Blockchain or any related technology at all, in the abstract.
Where commonalities between Walmart and the Blockchain do come to light is in comparing this report to April’s major news on Walmart and the Blockchain for the supply chain.
We already knew that Walmart wants to work with the Blockchain and use it in a way that actually helps its business, considerably. On April 24, a report was released that stated at an MIT Blockchain conference that Walmart was getting its suppliers to put their food on the blockchain. In doing this, they’ve been seeing results. One Walmart VP announced that Walmart’s average time to track produce has already gone down from six days to two seconds because of implementing the Blockchain.
Therefore, what this report by Coin Desk actually seems to be, with this past news in mind, is an interesting update on existing news. The patent being mentioned is being mentioned for largely, the first time. Specifically, it appears to be valid to say that it’s an addition to what they are already doing with their supply chain.
Back in March, Coin Telegraph and a blog called Fintech Finance had already written about certain efforts that Walmart was making related to the Blockchain and autonomous delivery. Overall, in these reports, it was stated that Walmart also aims to use the Blockchain in some sort of way to control a fleet of drones and autonomous land vehicles for home deliveries.
As to Thursday’s report, it appears that its specific addition was the fact that Walmart needed a separate patent for using the Blockchain to track any customer order, end to end. Reportedly, the customer will have a public or private key to track his or her order and when he or she uses it, he or she will find his or her user information being sent to Walmart.
So, if this is true, where’s the decentralization? If taken at face value, Walmart’s delivery tracking system is just a fancy usage of the Blockchain to track and store customer data. In the case that this situation is the way it looks, it wouldn’t be how the Crypto-pioneers envisioned the Blockchain being used, even by businesses.
It should be noted, however, that all signs point to this technology being in the testing phase and almost none of the most relevant information is publicly available. Therefore, as is often necessary in this new industry, all we can do is wait.