Cryptocurrency travel and transport is becoming a widely accessible option as blockchain finds it’s way into more industries. For example, Bitcoin traveling on the world’s first cryptocurrency is a way of pushing the currency to it’s limits across borders. For many, traveling on bitcoin is a proof of concept; a way to experience the boundaries that currently faces bitcoin’s usability in the market both small and large. Also, aside bitcoin, blockchain has many compelling use cases percolating in the travel and transport industry that may support people to move around faster and cheaper.
TRAVELING USING BITCOIN
Spending only bitcoin as you travel and tour the world is getting more closer to becoming a reality. New methods to book flights and hotels are becoming readily available as the industry opens it’s doors to cryptocurrency.
Also to online booking, travelers have been able to tap into a vast growing community of retail businesses that are accepting bitcoin over the counter for their goods and services. Grocery stores, coffee shops and nightclubs around the world have adopted bitcoin as a payment method. But for now, traveling with bitcoin is easiest in urban city centers. Shops and vendors accepting bitcoin proliferate the downtowns of cities like NYC, Singapore, Toronto, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
BOOKING WITH BITCOIN; USING BITCOIN TO PLAN AND BOOK TRIPS USING THESE SITES
- CHEAP AIRLINE;
Cheap Airlines is a popular hub for online travel bookings, with options for hotels, flights, and cars. Customers can choose to use bitcoin as their payment method for any of their services. Cheap Airlines avoids falling into the category of intermediary, which Buterin had commented on, by not charging any extra fees for bitcoin payments. Rather, they take full advantage of BTCPay Server, which is an open source payment processor. Also, BTCPay does not require KYC, it is self-hosted, has no middleman, no processing fees and is Lightning Network enabled.
2. BTC TRIP;
This has been a player in the industry since 2013, BTCTrip was among the early favorite in the crypto community. Key names have endorsed the travel site as a more pure option to traveling with bitcoin. Jon Matonis, Charlie Lee, Roger Ver and Erik Voorhees have all had nice things to say about this online travel site.
Bitcoin.travel is another notable option to spend your bitcoin (or altcoins) while traveling. Currently, they offer flights and hotels in addition to Airbnb-style rental options. The rental option is a distinctive feature compared to other travel sites accepting cryptocurrencies. Here, hosts can decide to lease their spare rooms, vacation properties, or cottages just like with Airbnb. However, all payments are made in cryptocurrency and never exchanged into a fiat. Guests can pay in bitcoin or altcoins which ever they want and also, hosts receive payment in similar cryptocurrencies of their choice.
EATING, ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOPPING
Many vendors are accepting direct payment in cryptocurrencies, and it all depends on where you are traveling, finding a wide range of options may still require filtering through Reddit and other bitcoin forums.
However, Coinmap, is aggregating the merchants you can visit with bitcoin onto an interactive map. The heatmap of bitcoin vendors shows an enormous concentration of merchants in Europe, Korea, America and parts of South America. The most active area for spending bitcoin is Europe. So, perhaps it can be considered good time for a bitcoin Eurotrip. Also, for those times when only the local fiat currency is needed, you can find a bitcoin ATM to make a cash withdrawal. Bitcoin ATM Map, somewhat similar to Coinmap, has an interactive map showing you active bitcoin ATMs.
BLOCKCHAIN IN THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY
Asides backpacking and vacations, blockchain is creating value in a mouthful of areas proportional to the transport and travel industries. Basically, identity, ride sharing, as well as loyalty programs have exciting use-cases for blockchain and many decentralized organizations.
BLOCKCHAIN BACKED IDENTITY MAY BE SAFER AND FASTER
Canada has recently endeavored to pilot a border security identity system that incorporates blockchain with advanced biometrics. The program is for selected amount of travelers and in partnership with the Netherlands.
In a blockchain backed identity system, travelers have a digital passport which is likely very accessible from a phone app. They retain their identity information while crossing borders, rather, confirming their identity with biometrics such as retina scans and fingerprints.
Although, little is known about the specifics of the blockchain for now. But, it is predictable that identity blockchains used in transport are ideal candidates for zero-knowledge proofs. This type of asymmetric information can vastly improve security and reduce crimes like identity theft. Also, as a government ran program, the identity blockchain will be permissioned and likely be a type of proof-of-authority or another similar consensus algorithm. Using an identity system on a blockchain in transport could be a useful tool to move people and packages through major travel points like airports and border crossings.
For Canada, the pilot program is an effort to manage the forecasted increase in air travel. In a statement during the World Economic Forum, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, said, “Innovation is key to enhancing global competitiveness, mobility, and productivity. Leveraging new technological advancements can support risk based approaches to public safety and security, making air travel much more efficient while improving the travel experience.
IMPROVEMENTS OF LOYALTY PROGRAMS
In a growing industry, the loyalty management market is predicted to increase to $4 billion by 2020. However, as highlighted in a report from the Deloitte Centre for Financial Services, the industry is being held back by some factors;
“loyalty and rewards programs are not realizing full potential, as a result of account inactivity; low redemption rates, high transaction, time delays, and system management and customer acquisition costs as well as low client retention”.
A possible remedy to these upper limits could be a shift to blockchain backed interoperability networks. Most blockchain backed loyalty programs focus on increasing the usability of earned rewards. Notably, credits earned in one loyalty program will be redeemable onto other loyalty ecosystems.
Understandably, consolidating an industry of this size into a single unifying network is not really an easy task but can be achieved. However, some technologies such as atomic swaps or network specifics connections like Cosmo Network’s Peg-Zones enable value to exchange across networks.
Moving around and exploring the world is becoming more easily accessible to anyone looking to live on their cryptocurrencies. Book your vacations on travel websites and visit bookstores, cafes and restaurants across the world while paying exclusively with your cryptocurrency.
It will not be surprising but rather interesting to see more projects using blockchain in the travel and transport industries as the technology continues to mature and venture into more use cases.