In a move that reveals both the company’s respect for blockchain technology and their intention to utilize it , the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revealed that last Friday (June 14) the world’s no.1 retailer Walmart acquired a patent for a blockchain-based energy network designed to lower costs, improve management and be paid for with Bitcoin.
Late last week, retail juggernaut Walmart, the world’s no.1 supermarket chain, acquired a quite remarkable patent. The patent is for the development of a smart, blockchain powered energy network. The goal of this network is to help companies such as Walmart manage their energy consumption by using open, distributed transaction ledgers to adjust grid demand. Walmart first applied for this patent in December 2017. Should Walmart initiate its use, and other retail giants like Carrefour and Tesco follow suite, it will be the greatest example yet of mainstream acceptance and appreciation for Satoshi Nakamoto’s brainchild.
Blockchain Based Energy Network
The patent states that a blockchain-based energy consumption network can greatly benefit both homes and larger organizations. By allocating the necessary amount of Bitcoin (or any other accepted cryptocurrency) needed to power each device around the home or business (i.e., fridge, washing machine, computers, printers, heavy-duty machinery etc), the user can then use cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to purchase energy from utility providers.
The patent states that each unit of cryptocurrency can represent one unit of energy:
“Each unit cryptocurrency may represent a unit or a portion of a unit of energy. For example, if 1 cryptocurrency unit is set to be equivalent to 1 kWh, the provider interface module 131 may receive a capped total amount of cryptocurrency of 800 for a month to spend on purchasing 800 kWh of electricity.”
The patent further says that should one device exceed the allocated amount of cryptocurrency, the remaining devices on the network can basically “cover for it” by sharing and balancing out the remaining funds to ensure continued operation during the billing period. The blockchain-based system will also display which device consumes the most energy in comparison to the others.
By the same principle, if a device consumes less energy, it can support other devices on the network. The remaining amount of crypto can be distributed with other networks, could be sold off, or retained for the following months bill.
As the patent states:
“The utilization of the cryptocurrency may be operated independent of a central database system, such as a central bank, a central management system, or central authority operated by the energy provider.”
Walmart’s Blockchain Revolution
This is not the first blockchain-based patent that Walmart has applied for. Recently the company was linked with a variety of patents designed to integrate blockchain technology into their infrastructure. One patent for example is for a service that can record customer purchases on the blockchain ledger. This would allow customers to use purchase records for resale purposes.
Another is Wal-Mart’s “Smart Package” patent, which uses blockchain-based for tracking packages, check for and deal with environmental conditions, search for locations, and other details. Walmart can also their suppliers to place foodstuff on the blockchain, which they believes will reduce waste, and improve on quality control.