Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are becoming well established in many industries. So far, though, not so much in aviation, with just limited use from charter firms and a few airlines. But the aviation industry loves new and emerging technology. Challenges remain with Bitcoin, but there is huge potential if airlines (and airports) choose to adopt it.
Blockchain and Bitcoin
Bitcoin regularly dominates headlines, with its dramatic rises and falls over the past years. It has certainly caught the attention of many investors and companies. Tesla and Mastercard have been recent major joiners to the Bitcoin world. Airlines too, but not so extensively yet.
Firstly, a quick recap on Bitcoin. It is a digital currency created in 2009, based on blockchain technology. It is not linked to any country or central bank, nor is it government regulated. Instead, digital coins are stored via a public ledger, making them secure and preventing fraud.
For clarity, there are plenty of other cryptocurrencies. We refer to Bitcoin here, but that is not to say others could not offer the same potential. Whether or not Bitcoin remains dominant is up for debate (and beyond our scope of expertise!), but others could take its place.
Bitcoin and aviation
Why should the aviation industry be interested in Bitcoin? Part of its appeal lies simply in its growing popularity. As far as any company wants to be open to as many payment methods as possible, the aviation sector will too. But there are other advantages.
Allowing cryptocurrency payments should offer lower transaction costs. Taking payment through credit cards, for example, add fees that average from 1.3% to 3.4%. Funds should also transfer much faster.
Bitcoin is truly digital and is stored in a digital wallet. This works well alongside airlines’ moves to offer digital technology throughout the journey. Airlines have already adopted digital tickets, check-in options, and flight management. Payment is a logical next step.
Cryptocurrencies also offer advantages in an international setting. Exchange rates add cost, and sometimes difficulty, for passengers. And cross border exchange and movement is a major consideration for airlines.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests!
Early moves in the aviation sector
It is early days still for Bitcoin in the aviation world. The first adopters have been private charter companies, taking bitcoin as payments for services.
The UK-based private jet company PrivateFly started accepting these in 2014 – and even claims to have received a Bitcoin booking for a charter on the first day. In early 2021, the company revealed that 19% of its sales now come from Bitcoin. It offers an account where…