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Walmart files patent for exploring ways to use cryptocurrency

Retail giant Walmart Inc. has filed a patent to explore a method to tie one digital currency unit to a regular currency, enabling swifter transactions and a host of other financial services, according to an Aug. 1 filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In its application, Walmart Apollo LLC said its proposed method involves a blockchain technology-protected digital currency that may be pegged to the U.S. dollar and will be available at select retailers or partners.

Walmart seeks to patent a way to create a cryptocurrency that records transactions on a blockchain and stores information on customers' purchase history to calculate and apply savings to their purchases, according to the filing.

The new cryptocurrency will incur no fee and can also be converted into cash.

"The digital currency can provide a fee-free, or fee-minimal place to store wealth that can be spent, for example, at retailers and, if needed, easily converted to cash," Walmart said.

The digital currency will also provide an alternative way for customers from low-income households that find traditional banking expensive to manage their finances, the retailer noted in its patent filing. Customers can create a "microbank" to store money and earn interest, as well as secure short-term loans, Walmart added in its application.

The development comes as food companies are increasingly exploring the blockchain technology to manage their retail ecosystems and supply chains. Walmart has also been using International Business Machines Corp.'s blockchain technology to reduce food waste, manage contamination and improve transparency across its supply chain.