Retail giant Walmart is exploring a way to let households manage their electricity bills using cryptocurrency – a concept it says could potentially lead to increased efficiency and lower prices.
According to a patent application filed by Walmart in December 2017 and revealed on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company is developing a system that would connect household devices and electricity providers over a public blockchain.
Walmart envisions that the system would let users prepay a capped amount of cryptocurrency to cover the expected electricity demands for specific devices.
Since the requirements would be visible on the public ledger, energy providers would be able to accurately allocate the required electricity to the household. Each transaction would also be recorded on the blockchain.
As the cycle goes on, the user’s demand and consumption history would be traceable and transparent, and could be used to make more accurate requests for supply. Further, if the actual usage of a specific device is more than is prepaid for, other devices can lend their budgeted electricity, while excess electricity would be credited to next cycle.
Walmart explained that the effort comes as a way to address a growing difference between energy provided and that actually consumed, an imbalance that leads to spiking electricity costs.
The patent filing states:
“Currently, energy providers deliver energy to locations that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers. The increased costs result from various appliances and devices that consume energy at higher levels than the appliance or device may actually need to function or perform certain tasks. “
The patent, though currently in review process and not yet granted, marks the retail giant’s latest effort in exploring cryptocurrency’s underlying blockchain technology for consumer use.
As previously reported by CoinDesk, the company has also filed blockchain patent applications that seek to utilize blockchain to boost its digital sales, as well as track its food supply chain.
Walmart image via Shutterstock