The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded a patent to retail giant Walmart for the development of a cryptocurrency-powered electrical grid on June 14, 2018.
Walmart’s Cryptocurrency Push
The patent describes an electrical grid designed to help companies regulate electricity demand and manage consumption using publicly-accessible blockchain technology. Details indicate the patent was filed in December 2017.
Walmart developed the system after observing energy providers deliver electricity to locations “that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers.”
As described, the increased costs result from devices consuming energy at higher levels than required, leading to an inefficient energy grid. The system is not limited to companies and outlines how households and smaller organizations can also build a blockchain-based network of devices.
“Each unit of cryptocurrency may represent a unit or a portion of a unit of energy. If one cryptocurrency unit is set to be equivalent to one 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.”
Electricity Sharing Ensured
In case a connected device runs out of funds, the system allows for it to share funds with other specified devices to ensure an uninterrupted usage of power, until the next billing period. Additionally, the system notifies owners about the energy and currency consumption of each connected device.
The innovative system can also distribute excess electricity to other networks, in return of cryptocurrencies, and vice versa. Importantly, the patent stated:
“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 Bullish on Blockchain
In April 2018, Walmart applied for two patents incorporating blockchain technology into its logistics arm. The patent described a unified blockchain process bringing together vendors, customers, and couriers under a single shopping network where payments are collected, divided and paid out among the vendors and couriers using a permissioned blockchain.
In May 2018, the retail giant filed another patent for a blockchain-based resale marketplace. The proposed platform aims to ease the process of product reselling, under the premise of a customer not owning a single product for their lifetime.