P Xenos and M Bacina
Walmart Canada branches into blockchain for freight and payments management
The Canadian branch of the retail giant, Walmart, has introduced an automated blockchain-based network for payments management and freight tracking.
The new system was developed in collaboration with the blockchain company DLT Labs. It is designed to improve freight and payment processing, and helps users to automatically verify transactions, trace deliveries, and handle reconciliation and payments.
Wallmart has outlined six priorities which the new blockchain network is aiming to achieve:
Data capture and integrity;
Faster transaction time;
Reducing costs; and
Better budgeting and planning.
While other entities have proposed or developed blockchain-based supply chain pilots, few have the enormous reach and resources that Walmart possesses. While this system appears to be fairly limited in scope, initially being used to track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation with 70 third-party trucking companies, it will be interesting to see how the system expands if and when the cost savings become clear.
John Bayliss, Senior Vice-President of logistics and supply chain at Walmart Canada, commented on the efficiency of blockchain technology for handling massive loads of inventory, saying:
This new dynamic and interactive blockchain technology platform is creating complete transparency between Walmart Canada and all of our carrier partners
Bayliss also suggested that expedited payments and cost savings are but a few benefits of using blockchain technology, saying:
This degree of improved efficiency represents a powerful platform for us to continue to reduce our environmental footprint and continue our leadership in environmental sustainability.
While some retail giants have expressed their own doubts regarding blockchain, Walmart has been an early adopter of blockchain to manage, integrate and synchronize at least some of its supply chain and logistics data in real-time and on a shared ledger.
This announcement follows a patent application submitted by Walmart earlier this year for a drone communication system based on blockchain technology. In theory, that vehicle-to-vehicle communication system between unmanned drones with a mesh communications networks, relay messages, and allow machines to be aware of each other’s bearing and location.