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Walmart Appears Poised to Join the Metaverse With Launch of Its Own Crypto and NFTs

The Ascent logo The Ascent 1/17/2022 Motley Fool Staff
a person standing in front of a store: A mom and daughter walking down the aisle of a grocery and putting food in their basket. © Getty Images A mom and daughter walking down the aisle of a grocery and putting food in their basket.

As first reported by CNBC on Sunday, global big-box retailer Walmart filed seven applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in December, which outlined Walmart's plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, NFTs, possible payment system, e-wallets and more.

Details of the Walmart trademark applications

One of the filings specifically mentions intentions for Walmart to create and sell virtual goods such as electronics, home decor, toys, sporting goods, and personal care products. Those types of products would make the most sense in a virtual- or augmented-reality setting such as the metaverse.

Additionally, an excerpt from one of the applications had this language regarding Walmart's proprietary software specifically designed to manage blockchain related coding applications, "Downloadable software for use in managing portfolios of digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital and blockchain assets, digitized assets, digital tokens, crypto tokens, and utility tokens, downloadable software for electronic wallet services, downloadable e-wallets."

While the ultimate uses of these applications are unclear, the blurb description above conveys a lot of the functions most commonly associated with a cryptocurrency trading exchange, especially when you factor together the intent to manage "portfolios of digital currency" and e-wallet services, which could include custodial storage as well as crypto payment options.

An old Walmart virtual reality shopping demo has resurfaced

Interestingly, a Walmart demo video of shopping remotely using a virtual reality headset, complete with Walmart shopping assistant, from five years ago has recently resurfaced and is circulating on social media. The video is a bit creepy and seems very lonely, but it fleshes out a metaverse vision that Walmart had years ago. The video also mentioned automated payments using "Walmart Pay" and automated age verification, which could soon occur via a non-fungible token application on the blockchain.

Walmart responded to my request for comment regarding these developments, with the following statement, "Walmart is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences. We don't have anything further to share today, but it's worth noting we routinely file trademark applications as part of the innovation process."

The trademark filings mark the latest exploratory step into the crypto space by the retail giant. In October, the world's largest retailer launched a beta test allowing some customers to buy Bitcoin at Coinstar kiosks in some of its U.S. stores. The pilot program uses 200 Coinstar machines which allow users to convert coins into gift cards or bills.

Make no mistake, when Walmart does launch into the cryptosphere it will be seismic and could usher in an era of mass adoption of blockchain-based technology.

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Tor Constantino owns Bitcoin.

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