Since Bitcoin entered the financial landscape in 2009 it has made immense leaps and bounds in becoming the internationally recognised digital currency it is today. Despite the giant progress, crypto still has the potential to further infiltrate many aspects of society, particularly how we travel.
This unprecedented technology can ultimately revolutionise the way we live our lives. Let’s take a look at how crypto is easing international travel, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Blockchain in travel
Many are familiar with cryptocurrencies, but few are aware that blockchain is the technology behind them. Blockchain technology, in simple terms, is a giant public ledger that stores data in a chronological, immutable manner. Particularly flourishing in supply chain management and the broader tech space, blockchain is also proving to be a useful asset to companies operating in the travel sector.
With a wide range of options within the sector, from flights to car rental to hotels, blockchain is slowly starting to prove to be a powerful force in each case. Already several companies have adopted the technology and used it to add more streamlined and efficient services to the travel industry.
For example, a French company, Sandblock is harnessing the technology and allowing travel companies to create their own loyalty tokens to attract and retain customers. These tokens can then be traded for a variety of services (beyond the company that issued them) or exchanged for alternative coins or fiat currencies.
Another example is a Swiss-based, blockchain based company called Winding Tree which was designed to minimize fees for travelers while reducing costs for service providers. The non-profit company aims to cut out the middleman adding high fees to travelers' bookings and connect travelers directly to the service providers using smart contracts.
These are just two in a wide range of companies already implementing blockchain technology into their businesses, illustrating the unlimited potential the nascent technology holds.
Crypto bridges the gap
Like blockchain, cryptocurrencies are too playing an impressive role in easing cross-border travel, with plenty more room for development and better adoption.
Cryptocurrencies facilitate seamless transactions without having to exchange one currency for another when going abroad. Say you lived in America and were visiting Australia, you wouldn’t need to exchange your US dollars for Australian dollars incurring high exchange fees and company-chosen exchange rates if you could just scan a QR code that automatically accesses funds in your universal crypto wallet.
Top tourist destinations around the world have started embracing cryptocurrencies, with a large amount likely to follow. For example, several destinations in Queensland, Australia, that provide access to the Great Barrier Reef have started implementing crypto payments into their tourist-focused businesses, and the reception has been impressive (see more below).
El Salvador on the other hand approved Bitcoin as a legal tender in 2021, effectively making it very simple for any crypto-savvy tourist to travel around. One doesn’t even need to take a fiat card with them as all transactions can be completed using their mobile device. If that’s not the future of travel, what is?
Advantages of using crypto to travel
For the sceptics out there we’ve outlined several advantages of using cryptocurrencies when traveling, below.
- It reduces the chance of theft or money loss
- It eases the booking process
- It allows users to avoid excessive exchange rates and ATM fees
- It minimizes the risk of credit card fraud
- Your smartphone functions as a wallet
- No left-over currency when you leave the country
Globalisation meets blockchain
With increased awareness around countries and societies around the world, thanks to both mainstream and social media, companies expanding on a global level are becoming more and more common.
However, this level of globalisation is often plagued with inconsistent means of distributing funds, causing delays, disruptions and unnecessary expenses. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology provide the infrastructure to change these difficulties, stablecoins even more so.
The mobile revolution
According to a recent study, there are 6.37 billion smartphone users around the world, with 80% of the population in possession of one device. This is a significant rise from 2016’s statistics where only 49% of the world owned a smartphone.
Ownership levels are unsurprisingly highest in developed countries like the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, where on average 80% of the population own a smartphone. Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are among the lowest percentages, with an average of 27% of the country owning one.
Despite this, 80% of the developing world are still crypto-capable. All that is required is a smartphone and an internet connection. In the future, more local businesses, hotels, and shops in these countries will set up crypto wallets, enabling them to accept global payments in a matter of seconds (depending on the coin of choice).
This is likely to happen faster in the developing world than elsewhere, as demand for convenient and reliable payment solutions is on the rise. Less developed countries like the Bahamas are already catching on.
An industry on the up
Crypto is easing international travel and contributing to a growing industry. Since the pandemic emerged, travel was put on a back foot but has since experienced a surge as people seek an alternative change of scenery. Now, cryptocurrency is making travel to remote areas, a growing demand, all the more possible.
Of course, government collaboration is paramount. Brisbane Airport in Australia is the first in the world to accept cryptocurrency at 30 merchants. As mentioned above, Queensland itself is a trailblazer in the crypto world. Agnes Water, a town located at the south of the Great Barrier Reef, has more than 40 businesses that accept Bitcoin. This kind of initiative is precisely what is required from governments and businesses for crypto to help grow the travel industry.
Ironing out foreign currency wrinkles
It is clear that crypto has the potential to revolutionise the way we operate around the world. Cryptocurrencies can make travelling easier and more accessible, and bolster tourism industries in developing countries. Solutions offered by several payment-focused cryptocurrencies could very well take over, as more and more tourists demand easier payment options.
Tap a streamlined cryptocurrency platform, is also contributing to the movement by providing a mobile app that facilitates rapid purchasing, trading, and secure storage of cryptocurrencies. For travellers faced with less tech-savvy merchants, Tap provides a Mastercard enabling users to spend supported fiat and cryptocurrencies at 40+ million merchants around the world.
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