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New kid on the block(chain)

Since the hype around Bitcoin, Blockchain has been a major buzz word. It’s a technology that has the power to change any number of industries - the travel sector included. Timo Pauli takes a glance into the not so distant future.

Aside from discussing its ups and downs in the stock market, (as we’ve seen in recent news articles), those talking about “Bitcoin” today (and understanding it) are also touching on the subject of Blockchain - a new web-based record linking technology, whose utilisation with digital currencies such as Bitcoin is just one of its potential applications. The future developments of this technology are going to reach even further.

According to the World Economic Forum, it’s predicted that by 2025, around 10 per cent of global GDP will be generated using blockchains. We may just be experiencing the birth of the next technological revolution.

Blockchain - a decentralised digital ledger

Unless you are a technology expert the chances are you don’t have a clue about what Blockchain is and that’s entirely forgivable because the technology around it can be remarkably complicated.

Blockchain works by creating a series of digital ledgers, each storing a different piece of information. Each ledger can only be accessed using codes shared by agreed users, who can then view the data but are unable to modify it. This creates an un-corruptible record of an ongoing transaction.

New potential – homes, music and ID

It’s not the easiest of subjects, but it’s important for us to understand the principle so we can then understand the applications.  

At the moment, payment systems as such as Bitcoin are the primary users of blockchain technology. In the future, however, blockchain will also play a central role in many other sectors, especially in those which are security-related. The world over, companies are developing ideas for possible uses for this type of registry. This technology is of particular importance for so-called Smart Contracts.

Blockchain in the travel sector

Blockchain has already made its way to the travel industry. At the moment, travel software company Amadeus has started working with startup firm Civic in order to implement blockchain technology for a range of functions. From booking, to identification at the airport, to checking in at a hotel, a traveller’s identity would be verified from anywhere via a blockchain, saving both the traveller and the controlling authorities much time and effort. Furthermore, the idea that baggage could be distinctly assigned to its owner with the help of a blockchain is a possibility up for consideration. Applying blockchains to loyalty and bonus programmes is a further anticipated application of this technology. Reward points could be collected across a variety of vendors, then made instantly accessible and used like a currency.