Crypto Rewards Program Planned By Malaysian Airline AirAsiabr>
Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia will be converting its frequent flyer points into a proprietary cryptocurrency and is considering an initial coin offering (ICO).
Headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia is the largest airline in Malaysia by fleet size and destinations. It operates scheduled domestic and international flights to more than 165 destinations spanning 25 countries. Its main hub is klia2, the low-cost carrier terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia.
In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said that its frequent-flyer rewards program is being converted into a cryptocurrency platform called BigCoin as part of a push into digital financial services.
“Starting in April, ticket prices will be quoted on the group’s website in conventional currencies as well as in BigCoin,” Fernandes said. “It will be possible to pay for seat upgrades, in-flight meals and other services using the digital currency within three to six months.”
Fernandes added that AirAsia is also planning an ICO, which would allow the BigCoin tokens to be bought at exchanges. He said the budget carrier wants an ICO because it will make BigCoin tokens more accessible to the public, and it will also create trust between AirAsia and its customers.
“I like [the idea of an ICO] because it just takes cost out of my system,” Fernandes said. “So I’m driven, not by trying to take over the world, but in the first instance, everyone buys in my ICO and I take out a lot of exchange risk, I take out a lot of settlement risk, etc., etc. So there are many ways of how we are looking at it.”
Other airlines have also been looking at blockchain technology as a possible rewards program model. In November 2017, Air New Zealand teamed with blockchain travel platform Winding Tree to explore blockchain for various applications, such as retail airfares, cargo and baggage tracking, securing information, and loyalty programs.
Last month, Singapore Airlines (SIA) said it planned to integrate blockchain technology into the loyalty program for its frequent flyers, providing them with digital wallets that can be used to unlock value from accumulated miles.