WTM 2022: Blockchain experts set out benefits for travel of a decentralised future

WTM 2022: Blockchain experts set out benefits for travel of a decentralised future

Bosses from Simard, Chain4Travel, Travel Ledger and Triend explained why immutability, transparency and security will increase collaboration and trust in the sector

Blockchain technology will bring multiple benefits to travel a panel of industry experts told delegates at last week’s World Travel Market.

Decentralised networks will enable firms to transact with each other and reconcile data more easily and efficiently and data will be both more secure and immutable, making it more trustworthy.

Blockchain will also enable customers of travel companies to take more control of their own data empowering them to decide which brands they share it with in exchange for loyalty and booking incentives.

Traveltainment and Peakwork founder Ralf Usbeck, who is developing the Chain4Travel blockchain main net for travel, said the technology will revolutionise how firms buy and sell from each other by consolidating multiple processes into one.

“What you can’t do with current technology is you can’t transact a product and the money in the same logical second. You will have a supplier API and a payment API. They are separate. With blockchain you can define both in the contracts.

“Validations are checking if there’s enough money in the wallet on the other side. If the answer is yes they give the money and take the ticket or product in the same logical second.

“You can pay the travel agency, an IT provider, a hotel in the same logical second. If something goes wrong, if there’s not enough money, the whole transaction is stopped.”

Roberto Da Re, founder of B2B payments and reconciliation platform Travel Ledger that is supporting Chain4Travel, said the immutability of data on blockchain is one of its most important characteristics.

“You know that once that transaction has been written it cannot be changed. Immediately that also builds trust. You can really trust the data.”

Da Re said this improves audit trails and transparency making smart contracts a valuable way of holding data over time. “Everyone can see that the transaction was performed like that. Parties that have access to the data are the only ones the only ones who can see it and actually modify it.

“In order to be able to modify the transaction you have to be the one who holds the private key for that wallet or smart contract.”

Matthew Hairsnape, founder of Triend, a reviews site that is using blockchain to give writers of reviews greater ownership and control of their own data and content, said immutability provides “huge opportunities” in travel by giving digital assets a verified and guaranteed value that can be exchanged and traded.

“Having a digital asset you have ownership of, that’s going to open up a whole new secondary market for travel. You could resell a flight you can’t make.”

Hairsnape said blockchain will end the era of control by single centralised entities and instead see the rise Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) that will support new “beautiful projects” due to transparency and accountability.

He said “currently there is a lot broken in the trust system” including the issue of fake reviews which can be addressed with Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) verifying the validity of the review and giving it a true value.

Don Birch, chief executive of Simard that uses the Winding Tree decentralised eco-system, said blockchain has been talked about for decades but he believes it’s time has come.

“For the first few years the constant refrain I heard from people was blockchain is a solution looking for a problem. Now, I think, we have got to the point where it may finally be a solution for a problem.”