What just happened? Walmart could be preparing for a big push into the metaverse. The big-box retailer recently filed a total of seven patents related to the topic, including those specifically addressing the metaverse, cryptocurrency, digital wallets and NFTs. One of the patents referenced a digital currency and a digital token for use online, while another touched on an online store to sell virtual merchandise.
In a statement issued to CNBC, Walmart said it is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences.
"We are testing new ideas all the time," the company said. "Some ideas become products or services that make it to customers. And some we test, iterate, and learn from."
Patent filings don't guarantee a company is planning to act on an idea, but trademark attorney Josh Gerben seems to think Walmart is serious about the endeavor.
"There's a lot of language in these, which shows that there's a lot of planning going on behind the scenes about how they're going to address cryptocurrency, how they're going to address the metaverse and the virtual world that appears to be coming or that's already here," Gerben said.
Ever since Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta, companies have been scrambling to figure out how they might fit into the metaverse puzzle. Nike back in November filed several new trademark applications for virtual goods. Gap also has an NFT collection, and drops from Adidas and Under Armour both sold out in record time. Konami just made over $162,000 from its Castlevania NFTs.
An official announcement from Walmart could have a big impact on cryptocurrency in general. Last year, Litecoin spiked 34 percent in just 15 minutes after a fraudulent Walmart press release was shared on GlobeNewswire.