New Patents Suggest Walmart is Embracing Crypto, NFTs, and VR Games

Walmart is Embracing Crypto

Seven recent patent filings suggest retail giant Walmart is embracing crypto, NFTs, and more as they’re entering the Metaverse with a new business venture that incorporates VR gaming, cryptocurrency, and NFTs.

These trademarks were filed to the US Patent and Trademark Office on December 30, 2021, outlining several potential applications that Walmart can pursue that incorporates the growing (and controversial) world of Web 3.0.

One patent describes “downloadable e-commerce software” that would allow users to “perform electronic business transactions” by providing them with a “virtual marketplace” that accepts “digital currency, crypto currency, and virtual currency.”

An example of this potential marketplace went viral earlier this month, when a video created by Mutual Mobile for SXSW 2017 resurfaced on Twitter. This video showcased a tech demo of a virtual Walmart shopping experience using Oculus virtual reality technology.

Instead of the traditional e-commerce experience that involves clicking on a picture of an object to add it to a cart, this video shows how the user can manipulate specific products as physics objects placed inside a virtual representation of a real shopping cart, with FMV-style cutscenes of workers providing unsolicited feedback and other shoppers crowding the aisle. Bafflingly, this video also implies that removing items from your cart requires you to place them back in their original location on the store’s shelves.

Another patent application filed by Walmart’s parent company focuses on “financial services, namely, providing a virtual currency for use by members of an online community” that includes both “exchange” and “issuance” of “virtual currency in the field of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).”

This implies that Walmart’s proposed platform would allow them to mint their own NFTs for trade while also facilitating the exchange of other NFTs through an integrated wallet. Based on the tech demo, these NFTs would likely be found on the gift card rack and would require you to physically scratch off the foil with a Walmart Coin to redeem it.

The fact that the aforementioned tech demo was created four years prior to the trademark filing indicates that this is not an impulsive decision made by a company that’s worth nearly $400 billion. Instead, this appears to be the next step in a longer plan to carve out space in the still very theoretical concept of the Metaverse.

Walmart is embracing crypto but when compared to the relatively tame rollout of NFTs by fellow retail company Gap, it’s clear that Walmart is interested in a much more involved experience than other companies in the industry are willing to pursue.

As outlandish as it sounds, the evidence currently available to the public implies that the geniuses in charge of running Walmart believe there is a strong enough demand for customers to buy and sell virtual goods that they will accept a bizarre simulation incorporating the worst aspects of the modern shopping experience with the clumsiest form of modern game design.

What do you think about their proposed tech and platform? Is it even feasible? Sound off in the comments below!

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Michael Valverde is a freelance writer and editor. His favorite video game is Half-Life.

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