In an effort that could lead to greater efficiency and lower prices, Walmart is looking into a system that would let households manage their electricity bills through cryptocurrency. Such a structure would work over a public blockchain, CoinDesk reported.
“Currently, energy providers deliver energy to locations that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers,” the patent filing said. “The increased costs result from various appliances and devices that consume energy at higher levels than the appliance or device may actually need to function or perform certain tasks.”
With the system, users may pay a capped amount of cryptocurrency up front, ahead of the expected electric demand of certain devices. And, since those requirements could be seen on a public ledger, providers of energy would be able to know how much electricity to allocate to each household based on their needs. In addition, budgeted electricity left over at the end of the cycle could be credited to the next period.
The news comes after it was reported that Walmart drafted two patent applications that reference a platform powered by blockchain technology for vendor payments and digital shopping, CoinDesk had reported. The applications were initially filed in October of 2017, reportedly drafted by the same team at Walmart. Though the retailer wants to give customers access to its own payment histories through the applications, it doesn’t want to give the same type of access to third parties.
In one patent application, the Walmart team referenced 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.
That news came 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.”