A job posting Sunday indicates that Walmart is looking to hire a blockchain technology expert to develop the company’s digital currency strategy and product roadmap.
When you’re the world’s second-largest retailer, there’s bound to be intrigue tied to your corporate maneuvers. But for whatever reason, developments at Walmart sometimes seem to take the shape of a paper trail.
Perhaps it’s because the company sometimes keeps its burgeoning revenue streams close to the vest.
Walmart has been tight-lipped about the fintech startup it announced in January in partnership with Ribbit Capital. Little more than a month later, that venture poached two leading executives from Goldman Sachs’s digital bank Marcus.
Yet details remained scarce. The fintech effort is meant to "develop and offer modern, innovative and affordable financial solutions" and "bring together Walmart's retail knowledge and scale with Ribbit's fintech expertise to deliver tech-driven financial experiences tailored to Walmart's customers and associates,” the retailer said in January.
The company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, told an investor conference in February only that "this new approach will help us deliver for [customers] in a differentiated way more quickly."
An April filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offered more clues. The filing revealed a potential working name (Hazel by Walmart) and logo for the fintech effort and lists several services the startup might offer: credit card and credit line issuing, card payment processing services, electronic funds transfer, bill payment services, banking services, lending, financial portfolio analysis services, financial research and information services, credit repair and restoration and providing virtual currency transaction processing services for others.
To be clear, Sunday’s job posting made no mention that the digital currency and crypto product lead would in any way be connected to the fintech startup. But if the startup is allowed to provide virtual currency transaction processing services, the crypto roadmap presumably would touch it.
Walmart’s posting Sunday follows — by a matter of weeks — a move by the retailer’s largest competitor, Amazon, to advertise an opening for a nearly identical job.
And it shows one way in which companies across the financial services spectrum are angling for blockchain expertise.
NYCB and Figure
New York Community Bank (NYCB), in another example, announced Monday it had struck a deal with Figure Technologies to partner on a series of blockchain-related initiatives.
As part of the agreement, NYCB will make a direct equity investment in Figure and allocate resources into blockchain projects using the fintech’s Provenance technology.
The bank said in a press release Monday it aims to leverage the blockchain to support financial inclusion in banking and credit, reduce cost and complexity within its mortgage business and support a faster and less expensive payments system.
"We chose Figure because of its focus on and knowledge of banking and payment systems,” NYCB’s CEO, Thomas R. Cangemi, said in the release. “Our agreement with Figure is a part of NYCB's strategic focus on the operational and cost benefits that blockchain technology can bring to bear across many areas of banking.”
Both NYCB and Figure have made headlines this year for separate moves to expand. NYCB in April announced it would acquire Michigan-based Flagstar Bank in a $2.6 billion all-stock deal.
Figure, meanwhile, received the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval in May to become a broker-dealer and run an alternative trading system for digital securities using Provenance.
The fintech has applied with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for a special-purpose bank charter. But a federal judge agreed in June to pause for 90 days litigation the Conference of State Bank Supervisors filed over Figure’s charter effort, under which the company wouldn't take FDIC-backed deposits but would take uninsured deposits of more than $250,000, American Banker reported.
“We see banks as an essential part of the Provenance ecosystem and we expect to announce several initiatives which will benefit Figure, Provenance and NYCB stakeholders,” Figure CEO Mike Cagney said in Monday’s release.