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Five retailers/brands that are all about the blockchain right now

Scott Thompson

A1

Austrian telecom operator A1 is testing out the acceptance of cryptocurrency payments in seven stores.

Customers can purchase services using Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, Litecoin, Stellar and Dash.

A1 Payment, a digital payment system developed in collaboration with Salamantex, Concardis and Ingenico, was first unveiled in mid-June. In addition to existing cashless payment methods, A1 Payment will also enable customers to buy services using Chinese payment operators Alipay and WeChatPay.

According to Markus Schreiber, Head of A1 Business Marketing, paying with digital currencies is becoming increasingly prevalent globally, while cash is in decline. He adds that the aforementioned crypto pilot will allow A1 to analyse demand for and acceptance of Bitcoin et al.

Rakuten

Crypto exchange Rakuten Wallet, a subsidiary of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, has launched.

Spot trading of three cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash – is now live. Plans are afoot to release an app for iOS and Android, use of which will be mandatory for deposits and withdrawals.

Rakuten acquired Everybody’s Bitcoin in August 2018 for $2.4 million. And it then announced an April 2019 launch date for Rakuten Wallet, but progress stalled.

Further details here.

Alibaba

Alibaba Group has applied for a US patent entitled ‘Domain Name Management Scheme for Cross-Chain Interactions in Blockchain Systems’.

A continuation of an application filed in November 2018, this flags up Alibaba’s intention to patent a system that uses a “unified blockchain domain name” (UBCDN) in order to denote and share information. The Chinese e-commerce giant proposes a computing system that would generate a UBCDN message containing a blockchain domain name and a chain identifier that is paired with that name.

The patent cites various instances in which this technology could be useful. For example: “The UBCDN can include a human readable identifier or label, helping users to memorise and reach a blockchain instance easily, and thus promoting adoption or use of the blockchain instance. As an example, owners or operators of public blockchains, private blockchains, or consortium blockchains can choose blockchain domain names that correspond to their names, helping users to remember the identifiers of the blockchain instances.”

The patent adds: “Unlike existing cross-chain implementations such as COSMOS, that uses a relay chain for cross-chain interactions, in which each blockchain is assigned an identifier (ID) within the relay chain network but the ID only has a local scope and cannot be reused in other relay chain networks, in the described domain name scheme, the UBCDN can be used and is recognisable globally by all blockchain instances in the unified block chain network.”

Earlier this year, Alibaba announced plans to integrate blockchain technology into its intellectual property system of global enterprises and brands. Further info here.

Walmart

Walmart has submitted a patent application for a drone communication system based on blockchain technology.

Abstract as follows: “A method of drone-drone communications using blockchain includes: determining operational parameters of a first drone; encrypting the operational parameters of the first drone; storing the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone in a block of a blockchain; determining when a second drone is in proximity of the first drone; retrieving the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone from the block of the blockchain; decrypting the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone; retrieving the operational parameters of the first drone based on the decryption; and configuring the second drone with the operational parameters of the first drone.”

Further details here.

Walmart Coin

Earlier this month, we reported that Walmart was looking into its own US dollar-backed digital currency, along the same lines of Facebook’s much hyped Libra project.

A patent application outlines a method for “generating one digital currency unit by tying the one digital currency unit to a regular currency; storing information of the one digital currency unit into a block of a blockchain; buying or paying the one digital currency unit”. 

The stablecoin could benefit those with limited access to banking services, one of Libra’s big selling points. “Using a digital currency, low-income households that find banking expensive, may have an alternative way to handle wealth at an institution that can supply the majority of their day-to-day financial and product needs,” Walmart states.

Users’ purchasing histories could be stored on the blockchain, with related savings applied to subsequent purchases in a similar way to loyalty programmes. Other features include the ability to remove the need for credit cards, and acting as a “pre-approved biometric (e.g., fingerprint or eye pattern) credit…A person is the ‘credit card’ to their own digital value bank”.

De Marchi 

BlockStar has partnered with cycling brand De Marchi to auction off the world’s only authentic replica of Fausto Coppi’s 1953 De Marchi jersey, all traced on IBM’s HyperLedger blockchain. 

Coppi, better known as Il Campionissimo, was a two-time winner of the Tour de France (1949, 1952) and a five-time winner of the Giro d’Italia (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953). 

The aforementioned jersey was created by Elda De Marchi to honour Coppi’s Road World Championship win in 1953, before it vanished for 60 years until being rediscovered in 2015. While the original is now housed in Italy’s Museo Ghisallo, the now 88-year-old De Marchi has sewn a replica using the same materials, colours, dimensions and relic look.

De Marchi CEO Mauro Coccia says: “We are proud to pay tribute to Italy’s greatest cyclist by harnessing BlockStar’s world class technology to provide the winner with an authenticated, dual ownership of a true cycling artifact. This auction is a unique opportunity to collect not only the only authorised and one-of-a-kind physical replica of Fausto Coppi’s jersey, but also the digital rights to the piece.”

Further info here.

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