2021-03-29 12:01:15

airBaltic Expands Its List Of Accepted Cryptocurrencies

European airline airBaltic has expanded its list of accepted cryptocurrencies to include many more types. Now included are popular cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Binance USD, as well as the more unusual such as Dogecoin. airBaltic was the first airline in the world to accept payments in Bitcoin and continues to lead the revolution in the travel industry.

airBaltic passengers now have more cryptocurrency offerings. Photo: Airbus

airBaltic leads the cryptocurrency revolution

Back in 2014, airBaltic became the first airline in the world to accept payments made in Bitcoin. A handful of other airlines and travel providers have followed suit, but cryptocurrency remains a rarity for most passengers’ payment options. Those that do accept it tend to focus solely on Bitcoin, but of course, there are many other cryptocurrencies out there.

Thanks to its partnership with BitPay, airBaltic is now extending the range of cryptocurrencies it is able to accept. The company already accepted Bitcoin as a payment method, but now that has been expanded to include Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin and four USD-pegged stablecoins – Gemini dollar, USD Coin, Paxos Standard Token and Binance USD.

The airline’s CEO Martin Gauss commented on the expansion of its cryptocurrency offerings, saying,

“As an innovative airline, we always strive to search for ways to improve the customer experience starting from the booking process. Over the years around 1000 clients have used the payment option, which may not seem like a lot, but still offers passengers a unique payment option hard to find elsewhere.”

martin gauss
airBaltic’s CEO says he wants to give passengers more options. Photo: airBaltic

As with the current crypto payment system, airBaltic customers will be able to see the ticket price displayed in Euros. When the customer pays for their flight, the fare is converted into the rate for that cryptocurrency at the time, and paid for in Euros. BitPay does the conversion, and no cryptocurrency is held by airBaltic.

Why pay for airfares in cryptocurrency?

For passengers, there are several benefits to paying for travel-related expenses with cryptocurrency. For a start, it removes bank fees usually associated with paying in foreign currencies, which can inflate travel costs significantly. It also allows a certain degree of anonymity, likely one of the reasons PrivateFly sees so much of its business paid for in Bitcoin. Overall, it’s a more secure, rapid and self-reliant way of conducting business.

For airlines, airports and travel companies, offering payments in as many methods as possible is a desirable approach. They want to make it easy for the customer. However, the downside of accepting crypto as a payment method is in its wild and frequent value fluctuations.

The wild ride of Bitcoin’s valuation has been well-publicized, and the rather unusual Dogecoin seems to increase in value every time Elon Musk tweets about it. If an airline holds crypto, the risk is that it will devalue significantly between the point of taking the payment and the time when it’s converted into its own currency.

Digital Cryptocurrencies
Some cryptocurrencies can change in value significantly in very short spaces of time. Photo: Getty Images

But by partnering with a provider like BitPay, airBaltic is cushioning itself from these changes in valuation, as none of the bitcoin is held by itself. Instead, BitPay takes the cryptocoin, and airBaltic receives the amount in Euros.

In the longer term, the use of cryptocurrency to pay for travel could become more widespread and standardized. It would take a lot of the guesswork out of currency conversions and allow more instant payment transactions to take place between airline or travel provider and customer.

For now, it’s likely to be some time before it’s widely adopted as the foremost means of payment. When it does, airBaltic is ensuring it’s at the leading edge of the revolution.

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