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July 31, 2017

A Russian airline might take payments via Ethereum — how is it going to help?

By GlobalData Technology

There is an increasing number of companies using blockchain to see how it can cut costs and speed up transactions.

There are only a handful that of practical applications that have been put into practise however, especially in the travel and leisure industry.

Now Russia’s biggest domestic airline, PJSC Siberia Airlines — commonly known as S7 — has begun using blockchain technology to issue flight tickets on the Ethereum blockchain.

According to the daily newspaper Kommersant, the Russian airline, in collaboration with Alfa-Bank — the country’s largest private commercial bank — and the airline’s largest agent, S7 Ticket, launched a project to sell flight tickets on the blockchain platform Ethereum.

The airline is considering using the ether cryptocurrency for ticket payments but has not said whether the sale will happen on a public or a private version of the Ethereum blockchain.

Previously, the Russian airline closed a deal with Alfa-Bank regarding the use of smart contracts, which were used to record the bank’s actions in the blockchain and smart track the letters of credit.

Reducing settlement times

Using blockchain — a digital method used to maintain records on a database distributed across different computers — the airline could speed up the time it takes to process payments.

According to the traditional scheme the time it takes for the airline and the agent to mutually agree was around two weeks.

The scheme should also help with the streamlining and facilitating the payment process, by writing off the agent’s commission automatically after the ticket sale.

Blockchain is particularly useful when keeping dynamic data — that is data that can be given additional entries while being stored by securely — and with an auditable history.

Blockchain is however still expensive to implement and centralised data systems based on the client-server model are a cheaper option.

While S7’s partnership with Alfa-Bank is likely a sign of things to come, it will be some time before blockchain becomes widely used by airlines. Though eventually it will become industry standard.