Cutting-edge technology has always been and always will be a driving force in the development of the travel industry. Back in 2017, ITM released a feature on the future of tech and travel, detailing how changing behaviours and emerging travel tech possibilities are defining the way we transport people across the world. Now, a new player in the game will again change the way we see travel: blockchain technology. What is it, and how will it change the travel industry?
The primary defining characteristics of blockchain is its security and efficiency. The reasons why it's known primarily as the tech behind cryptocurrency are the same reasons why it's perfect for identity verification. Each block on a chain represents a command, and before that command can be part of a chain, it's verified through each user that's on that chain, after which it is indelibly time-stamped and attached to the blockchain. The result is a decentralised and secure way to perform transactions on a platform that's much more lightweight compared to any other type of fintech. In fact, compared to traditional identity verification processes such as physical documents, digital passwords, or even biometric data, a blockchain is not just much faster to process but also much harder to hack without being found out.
A startup called Zamna is currently at the front lines of using blockchain to streamline the necessary identity verification processes in international travel. After raising £5 million in seed funding, Zamna is now reportedly working with Emirates Airlines as well as the UAE government to further develop its blockchain identity platform.
Smart Travel Contracts Smart contracts may soon streamline the way we make travel bookings. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts allow for the automated and digital execution of any binding contract stipulations, including bank transfers, identity info exchange, travel bookings, service and insurance agreements, airline loyalty programs, and more — useful not just for travel but for virtually any industry with similar logistical needs. In fact, a post on ‘How Blockchain is Disrupting the Legal Sector’ notes how smart contracts can be used to automate a wide variety of binding legal arrangements. Apart from real estate leases and supplier contracts, this could soon include travel agreements, which is exactly what a startup called Please.com is currently developing. Although the use of smart contracts for travel is currently in its developmental stages, it's paving the way for blockchain tech to address issues in ticketing, leasing, aircraft refuelling, supply chain management, and finding lost luggage.
Small and lightweight smart tags can be attached to any packages, allowing you and anyone else responsible for handling baggage to easily track them and see where they are in the transit process. And with blockchain, all of these tracking sequences can be secured, enabling the integration of lost luggage and compensation stipulations in smart travel insurance contracts. This is exactly what a company called Bagtrax is working on. Instead of GPS technology, their smart tags use SIM cards and are tracked through triangulation, which makes them acceptable by American federal and European aviation regulations. Any instances of lost luggage that has a smart tag will be easier to deal with, as any inquiries will be able to cut through the red tape, making both finding lost luggage and insurance processes easier.
As blockchain streamlines the way many major global industries operate, the business of global travel is next in line to experience the benefits of this new and disruptive technology.
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