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Walmart Launches New Blockchain-Based Payment and Freight Network in Canada

Nov 22, 2019
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byCameron Coleman

Walmart Canada has announced they are launching a brand new blockchain-based payment and freight network. The new technology will be used to help interconnect 70 trucking companies that ship Walmart merchandise to over 400 retail locations. The announcement comes in the wake of what has been a big month for blockchain, after Nestle’s parent company and a subsidiary of Alibaba announcing the creation of their own blockchain-based networks earlier in November. Walmart Canada's said in a statement that the new system will help the company continue to be focused on reducing costs to ensure the lowest prices for its Canadian customers.

The new network will incorporate the benefits of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology. The technology will automate the payment system, track deliveries, and verify transactions. The platform will also provide a new way for Walmart to improve the time-consuming reconciliation process between the giant retailer and its carriers. An estimated 50-75 per cent of all invoices on the current system require additional resolution measures. The disputes between Walmart Canada and its carriers can take weeks or sometimes months to resolve. Crypto News Bites reports that the industry currently has $140 billion tied up in payments disputes every day, saying that inefficient administrative processes amount to 20 per cent of the freight industry’s total cost.

Walmart claims that the new network will be the world’s largest full production blockchain-based solution ever created for an industrial application. The system has already gone live, with the plan of having all of Walmart Canada’s third-party carriers on the new platform by February 1, 2020. The network will be accessible in the form of a mobile device application as well as a web portal.

Walmart is not new to the blockchain space, having already collaborated with IBM to use blockchain technology to track the retailer’s supply chain of shrimp from India to Sam’s Club stores in the United States. Walmart and IBM also worked together for IBM’s Food Trust, a blockchain-based system for tracking fresh produce as it travels along a supply chain. In June, Walmart joined Mediledger in a pilot project with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test new approaches towards creating a new system used to track and verify prescription drugs.

Walmart partnered with Toronto-based DLT Labs to develop the new blockchain-based solution. The new network will employ DLT’s supply chain management platform DL Asset Track to automate future payment and freight data processing. The new network will manage, integrate, and synchronize the supply chain and logistics data on the newly created blockchain in real-time.

The new system will also aggregate the data shared between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party suppliers on a shared and distributed ledger. The network will also automate the calculations needed to enable real-time payments, settlements, and invoicing. The new technology has been built to integrate with Walmart Canada’s legacy information systems, allowing the existing network of stakeholders to use their pre-existing processes without having to retrain employees and without needing to fund new investments in technology.

DLT Labs CEO Loudon Owen said in a statement, "Walmart is a global leader in innovation, with a relentless focus on improving people's lives, and DLT Labs is delighted to partner with such an extraordinary organization to bring the world's first and largest blockchain solution for industry into production. This proves the high value of blockchain and sets the stage to revolutionize supply chain management and logistics, due to its ability to enable secure information sharing, manage trust and reduce waste in multi-partner operational processes." adding, "Just as the Roman's concept, 'dictum meum pactum' (meaning 'my word is my bond') was fundamental to building trade, this product creates a secure digital handshake using blockchain to renew trust and efficiency in global trade."

Walmart Canada has distribution centers located in Calgary, Cornwall, and Mississauga that transport thousands of items to stores across the country every day. Walmart Canada currently employs more than 4,500 drivers and associates, transporting 853 million cases of consumer merchandise every year. Walmart partners with a combination of third-party transportation fleets in the shipment process in addition to having its own fleet of 2,000 trailers and 350 drivers. The elevated levels of automation in the data collection and management process on the blockchain will result in significant cost savings for the company and its suppliers.

Walmart Canada had previously developed smart transportation networks that made their driving, loading and routing more efficient while also reducing energy consumption. Walmart says that the shared data provided by the new platform will improve the company’s ability to reduce costs and waste, offer automated payment processing and reconciliation, delivery coordination and routing improvements as well as improved operations.

Walmart Canada’s senior vice-president of logistics and supply chain John Bayliss says, "Walmart Canada is dedicated to efficiency across our business, including most importantly in our supply chain and logistics management. Our carrier partners move over 500,000 loads of inventory nationally, which creates an extraordinary volume of transaction data. This new dynamic and interactive blockchain technology platform is creating complete transparency between Walmart Canada and all of our carrier partners." adding, "Blockchain is enabling a material advance in our smart transportation network, with expedited payments, extensive cost savings and other benefits among our supply chain. Moreover, 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."

The full list benefits of the new platform provided by Walmart and DLT Labs include:

·     Data Capture & Integrity: A distributed repository increases trust and transparency by sharing information and automating workflows and calculations to minimize manual effort and increase accuracy.

·     System Efficiency: Improved collective resource utilization, including quicker responses, improved tracking and tracing, and early problem detection.

·     Faster Transaction Times: Real-time consolidation of all business rules and transactions to create a single invoice reduces wait times and speeds up payments.

·     Eliminates Disputes: All participants can now effectively manage the complex shipment, invoice, payment and settlement process, while minimizing unproductive time spent on disputes and reconciliations.

·     Reduces Costs: Increased efficiency reduces all parties' enterprise technology and administration costs.

·     Better Budgeting and Planning: Accurate, real-time data can now be used for enhanced analytics and predictive modelling.

Walmart Canada says that the benefits of the new system are the result of the inherent characteristics of blockchain technology including the sharing of an immutable and auditable trail of data on a public ledger that is distributed, shared, and accessible to all the participants on the blockchain. The new platform takes advantage of what has come to be known as the Internet of Things (IoT). This includes using internet-connected products that allow the company to capture and secure data from increasingly interconnected devices.

The new system of data collection taken directly from devices is especially useful for Walmart Canada because of its reliance on third-party companies and carriers that often have their own separate data management and operation systems. For example, each truck used in the supply of and distribution of merchandise can include up to 170 variable costs that are determined by recorded data points that can include GPS data, shipment, contracts, and accounting information. Previously, the amount of data collected and used to interconnect all of the involved parties was overwhelming the company’s legacy information technology systems. Walmart Canada says that they have found the answer to this problem with blockchain-based solutions.

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