The digital cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, litecoin, Ripple XRP) which are independent of central banks, authorities and countries have become in 2018 one of the most debatable economic topics worldwide. Their creation goes back to 2009 with Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency and the most controversial nowadays not only for its rapid and incomparable trade value that has reached $19,850.00 in Dec 2017 from its initial value of $0.10 per unit but also for the uncertainty generated on account of its spectacular and drastic fluctuations, nurturing serious concerns about its future success or a claimed sudden failure due to a ‘’Financial Bubble about to Burst’’.
Within the Aviation Industry; the debate intensifies with the now confirmed first carriers embracing Bitcoin throughout 2018; Peach in Japan in conjunction with Bitpoint Japan are planning on accepting Bitcoin for ticketing and other tien-ins services such as accommodation. Surf Air in the USA is accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum for 5 membership options of their services and more recently Air Baltic in Latvia is approaching Bitcoin acceptance as part of their improved customer service strategy. Furthermore, Travel companies such as Universal Air Travel in partnership with Bitnet claim they would accept Bitcoin to buy tickets from more than 260 airlines. One of the main reasons of this embracement is said to be that digital currencies can save airlines significant amounts of cash, as the global aviation industry is highly dependent on foreign exchange and transactions mainly through European and American banks for most of its operational cycle; for instance, Flight Ops, Maintenance, Fuel Expenses, staff payments, purchase of tickets and other processes that require cross border remittances that incur in bank charges.
Nonetheless, the challenges for the cryptocurrencies are far from limited, as the number
of money laundering cases and financial crimes have tripled over the last 3 years, as the existing trading channels see an alarming number of transactions every day that are opening the door to potential terrorist and criminal activates due to the lack of regulation in terms of the identities behind the transactions. For this reason, countries such as South Korea, although they have not banned the transactions, have prohibited the trade anonymously. Also, it has been announced by the UK and European governments that similar measures and rules are being considered to avoid cryptocurrencies hindering the fight against crime.
At Brookfield we embrace innovation to remain at the forefront of technology and the industry, providing our clients and pilots with the most progressive, secure and efficient service for the last 25 years. Hence, If the evolution of the aviation industry requires adaptability and flexibility to this new economic revolution but more importantly, if the circumstances around cryptocurrencies are embraced by governments and safe and more beneficial for our stakeholders, we could consider our participation in the cryptocurrency trading.