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• The Associated Press reports that " Wal-Mart has a new program that offers prizes as incentives to get its legion of shoppers to sock away money in saving accounts. The 'Prize Savings' program features Wal-Mart’s branded reloadable pre-paid debit cards, which are linked to a free savings 'vault.' Savers are given one entry into a monthly prize drawing for every dollar they stash in the vault.

"The sweepstakes will award 500 cash prizes every month, with the average prize being about $25. The monthly sweepstakes includes one $1,000 grand prize."

Walmart, the AP writes, says it is "the first national and retail prize-linked savings program," as well as being a way "to encourage saving by its low-income shoppers, many of whom might not have enough saved to cover even the smallest emergencies, like fixing a flat tire." But more importantly, the story says, the program "underscores how the world’s largest retailer is expanding its financial services, which already includes check cashing and money transfers."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart, "in a major test of blockchain technology, has begun to define data requirements for tracking and tracing pork in China and produce in the US." The project, according to the story, "is viewed as a major test of blockchain distributed ledgers outside the financial services industry, where the technology has received the most attention. Supply chain management and other sectors are interested in blockchain for digitizing the hand-offs between trading partners that are often managed in paper files and subject to delays and errors.

"Among companies in consumer goods and manufacturing, 42% plan to spend at least $5 million on blockchain technology in the next year, according to a survey released this week by Deloitte. The firm polled 308 executives at organizations with revenues of at least $500 million about their outlook on blockchain."
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