Bitcoin, Ethereum and a host of other cryptocurrencies have become mainstream in the media and even merchant outlets. Due to the current bull run that started in June 2019, cryptocurrencies continue to gain traction as a payment option in lieu of cash or credit cards.
As early as 2013, airlines and online travel agencies started accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. In 2013, Bitcoin was trading at $900 and values in the past few months have been in $9500 – $12000. Bitcoin adoption is pushed one step forward as Norwegian Air Shuttle – one of Europe’s largest airlines – begins accepting BTC payments. The development marks the first time a major airline enables customers to purchase air tickets using Bitcoin. Norwegian Air Shuttle is Europe’s third-largest low-cost airline and, according to local finance newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, its acceptance of Bitcoin will be preceded by the launch of the Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) in August. Latvia-based AirBaltic that flies in Europe, Russia, CIS, and the Middle East and Japan’s Peach Aviation, an economy airline, also accept Bitcoin.
Like most businesses who are accepting crypto, they are seeking third-party payment solutions like BitPay and Coinbase, but Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to accept Bitcoin payments directly using a payment solution currently being developed by NBX.
“NBX will actually be Norwegian’s payment processor for virtual currency [payments]. The payment solution and crypto exchange are complementary products, giving the airline a complete solution.,” Stig Aleksander Kjos-Mathisen, the Managing Director of NBX.
The solution that is being built will also be available to other merchants. And the airlines plans to release a reward program tied to the exchange. NBX traders will earn cash points on trades and payments made through their platform. The airline will accept ETH and USDC in addition to BTC.
At the moment NBX will be available to Norwegian customers and then will slowly expand to neighboring countries in the future.
The airline explained that customers had been requesting for cryptocurrency payments for quite sometime and the airline also realized that traditional methods of payment are slow, expensive and inefficient. For the airline, accepting crypto payments is the first step towards embracing a crypto ecosystem and settlements in virtual currencies are an important part in the B2B segment.
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