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Retail Giant Chooses Blockchain For Shipping

Retail Giant Chooses Blockchain For Shipping 101
Source: iStock/Wolterk

American retail giant Walmart has filed for a patent for shipping using blockchain technology. The application, released on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), details what this so-called “smart package” would entail, such as the content of the package, tracking and more.

The patent was first submitted in August 2017 and builds on a filing Walmart submitted for a blockchain-based drone package delivery tracking system in May of last year. That first patent specified their interest in blockchain technology, “Authentication and access may be restricted to specific blockchain keys to access the contents of a parcel's payload, and may include specific times and locations [...] Access to the contents may be determined at the scheduling and purchase of a delivery or products.”

The new patent describes this smart package as including a device which would record information on a blockchain regarding the contents of the package, its environmental conditions, its location and more, as well as suggesting it could be used in tandem with other emerging smart delivery technologies such as drones.

According to the application, the blockchain component is to be encrypted into the device, and that it should have “key addresses along the chain of [the package's] custody, including hashing with a seller private key address, a courier private key address and a buyer private key address.”

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This is not the first time that the food industry expresses interest in blockchain: last year, Walmart, Kroger, Nestle and others partnered up with IBM to improve food traceability using blockchain.

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