Walmart, an American multinational retailing corporation managing a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, aims to adopt blockchain technology to tracking packages delivered by unnamed drones.
Walmart has filed a patent application called “Unmanned Aerial Delivery to Secure Location” to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The goal is a delivery management system that comprises a blockchain processing device to track, register and authenticate items of the payload moving through a supply chain.
“In some embodiments, the delivery box may also include a delivery encryption system comprising a blockchain for package tracking and authentication. Package tracking by blockchain may include elements including but not limited to location, supply chain transition, authentication of the courier and customer, ambient temperature of the container, temperature of the product if available, acceptable thresholds for ambient temperature of the product, package contents placed in the container system (products & goods), or a combination thereof,” the patent application reads.
Walmart representatives explain how they see a hypothetical delivery. Drones carry the packages and once they come close enough to the delivery box, the box automatically unlocks itself and opens. The role of blockchain is to increase security and transparency as well as to provide precise tracking, which will be especially important for sensitive shipments including food, flowers, and medical samples.
Blockchain will allow tracking useful information about a package including time, location, handlers, delivery date, temperature, pickup protocols, and other data in a tamper-resistant format. All participants of the supply chain such as couriers and customers will have access to necessary information.
It is not the first time that Walmart makes efforts to leverage the blockchain technology. In October 2016, the company announced the partnership with IBM to use blockchain for digital tracking shipments of pork in China.
Walmart filed a patent application for this delivery management system a year prior to the IBM announcement on November 25, 2015.
Blockchain has such a great potential that Walmart’s initiative represents only one of its potential applications. Many companies continue studying the technology to disrupt various areas of business, including financial services, supply chains, media, and governance.
Last year, Walmart came up with its own payment solution. The company announced Walmart Pay available via Walmart app.
Comparing to external competitors, Walmart doesn’t need to make any considerable changes to accept Walmart Pay. This obvious advantage encourages fast spread of new payment method in the stores of the chain – now it is available in 33 states with more to come in the future.