AirAsia, the budget airline, is entering the financial services market and planning an ICO. From April prices for tickets will be shown in both Fiat currencies and the BigCoin cryptocurrency. The budget airline recently launched a mobile wallet, BigPay, to be used for in-flight purchases in an attempt to do away with using cash on planes.
The plan is for the wallet to include the cryptocurrency soon. BigPay can be used to pay for seat upgrades, in-flight meals, and any other services. The wallet, cryptocurrency and loyalty scheme dovetail together nicely.
The airline operates across Asia with current bases in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India. It’s getting approval for flights to Japan and planning new locations in Vietnam and China.
So the BigCoin cryptocurrency can remove some of the exchange rate variations, and that could extend from loyalty usage to the mainstream flight revenue.
CEO Tony Fernandes told the Nikkei that he thought the airline’s database of 65million users could be more valuable than the airline itself. He intends to leverage it for financial services when the wallet eventually includes money remittance and a lending platform.
Fernandes is not the first to announce a blockchain airline loyalty scheme. In February Singapore Airlines announced it completed a proof of concept (PoC) for a blockchain digital wallet for its KrisFlyer loyalty program. The company is in the process of signing up third-party retailers and intends to launch in the third quarter.
Microsoft and the KPMG Digital Village helped the airline to develop the PoC. Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said: “This groundbreaking development in which we will be using blockchain technology to ‘digitalise’ KrisFlyer miles is a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers.”