Bitcoin Speculation: Analysing Bitcoin’s Potential in Travel Industry

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Though undeniably popular with its ardent supporters, bitcoin is arguably still searching for a practical application that makes it indispensable to mainstream users. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real use cases for bitcoin that could bring the kind of payments revolution many in the industry are hoping to achieve, though.

Being both digital and decentralized, bitcoin is already a globalized electronic currency that operates across international borders. These traits are a key reason why many believe the first true killer application for bitcoin will be travel, and mainstream businesses like CheapAir and Expedia seem to agree.

All over the globe countries use different currencies, with banks and currency exchangers taking profits from each transaction. While small, these add up to real costs for everyday travellers and the travel industry itself – costs that bitcoin could help alleviate.

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Of course, while bitcoin may have real benefits, it’s important to try to quantify just how big of an impact it could have on the travel industry, and how specifically the technology might be able to lead to improvements. Research firm IBISWorld has found the global tourism market brings in more than $1tn in revenue for over 1.6 million travel-related businesses.

Still, currency is a constant issue for those who travel internationally, and thus travel companies that provide solutions could win customer loyalty by improving the experience for users.

“I travel all over the world, and every time I go somewhere the first thing I do is go to an ATM and get some cash. And one out of 10 maybe works,” said Safahi. The byzantine banking network around the world is another part of the problem. With so many payment processors and networks, it’s almost impossible for ATM networks to cater to every single consumer card, and as a consequence, just as difficult for travel businesses to serve these customers at a low cost.

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Bitcoin ATMs may be able to alleviate this issue by allowing travelers to go across borders with just one currency – bitcoin – before withdrawing local fiat at a low cost wherever they need it. Safahi sees the potential for bitcoin ATMs in international locations, such as airports, train stations and other hotspots for travelers.

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