How Blockchain Technology Will Dominate The Travel Sector
Blockchain Technology can be a Valuable
CEO of CellPoint Mobile, which develops payment solutions & technologies that help airlines & travel companies. I am among those enthusiasts who believe that blockchain technology can be a valuable corporate finance tool outside of the banking sector. Airline industry CFOs and finance executives throughout the travel sector belong on the growing list of beneficiaries as well. As the backbone of digital currency, blockchain is already revealing its value in areas such as transparency, data security, logistics and process simplification, and even regulatory compliance. Recently, Walmart and IBM announced a pilot project to apply blockchain technology to Walmart's global supply chain management system.
Of course, not every company is a candidate for blockchain applications: A recent Wharton analysis concluded that a company must determine whether blockchain is suitable based on multiple factors. The rationale for embracing blockchain technology will make the most sense — and take on a degree of urgency — if the business structure involves any number of parties that need trust and inter-party data access and management. As a provider of mobile commerce and payment solutions for travel companies, this makes the travel sector an ideal candidate in my book.
More Business Equals More Revenue
The travel business is complex and fragmented – ask any travel sector CFO or technology vendor. In addition to operational and financial challenges connected with protecting and growing their business, travel executives face distinctive challenges in their efforts to protect their customer base. Among the most pressing is identity management as security concerns persist and passenger numbers grow exponentially.
As the Walmart pilot suggests, there is growing evidence of blockchain's value on an operational level. But its potential benefits, including security features, extend to "soft" yet vital airline success factors, such as customer satisfaction and retention. For example, with blockchain processes serving as the underlying authentication layer for biometric-equipped mobile and wearable devices, a passenger's experience becomes easier, faster and more satisfying. They can verify their identities, purchase travel products, and ancillary services before, during and after their trips. They can communicate with airlines in a variety of new and engaging mobile formats without pulling out IDs and expose personal financial information every single time.
To extend the vision from a passenger's perspective, imagine going from home to the airport for a flight, then from the destination airport to your hotel and straight to your room without standing in a single line or sharing your personal data. Managing frequent flyer and loyalty programs and tracking baggage can also be a piece of cake, using blockchain technology as the information "connector." The beauty of this vision is that it serves as a genuine win-win for both the airline and its customers. And by contributing to customer satisfaction, an airline is much more likely to retain and grow that source of revenue, not to mention the range of ancillary purchases that become easier with blockchain technology.
From Visionary To Commonplace
Airlines and governmental bodies are already investing in the idea of a universally accepted blockchain ID, to both simplify travel and make it safer. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are important players, yet airlines and other travel companies must wrestle with the fact that innovation is being driven outside of their industries by companies such as IBM, Google, and Apple. Venture capital continues to pour into the bitcoin and blockchain world, with an estimated $1 billion in VC funding since 2014.
As the blockchain universe evolves within the travel sector, it holds the potential to integrate new products and services without excessive investment costs or overly complicated implementation efforts. Granted, this will not happen overnight. It will likely take another three-to-five years before blockchain technology matures to the point of widespread adoption, and perhaps even longer before many airlines and travel-related businesses understand out how to embrace and monetize blockchain. Only then can they affect change throughout the enterprise.
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