Norwegian airlines, a well-known European budget airline, will allow passengers to use Bitcoin to purchase tickets. But the story didn't end here. According to local media reports yesterday, the company also opened its own cryptocurrency exchange.
Using Bitcoin to solve financial crisis
Norwegian Aviation plans to allow Norwegian customers to purchase tickets through cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. The company's new cryptocurrency exchange, the Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX), will be open to the country starting in August. Moreover, it is reported that Norwegian Airlines will launch exchange services in neighboring countries in the coming months.
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NBX will integrate Norwegian's existing rewards program, and customers can earn points by trading on the exchange, which can be used to exchange ticket discounts and other offers.
NBX head Stig A. Kjos-Mathisen said:
“NBX customers can trade on the exchange and earn points using NBX's payment solutions for airlines.”
Norwegian Airlines owns 195 aircraft and flies over more than 500 routes worldwide. The company was founded in 1993 by Bjørn Kjos and resigned as CEO two weeks ago. It is reported that Kjos' son, Lars, is likely to be the driving force behind the decision to adopt cryptocurrency.
Lars Ola Kjos, 41, has worked in this airline for many years and is passionate about investing in Bitcoin. According to reports, he holds more than $400,000 in cryptocurrencies, most of which were purchased before November 2017.
However, another reason for choosing another path may be that the group's share price has fallen more than 75% since April 2018, and its financial position remains tight, after the company had boldly planned to challenge transatlantic airlines in the long-haul aviation market.
Norwegian Airlines lost about $170 million last year. The reason is the increase in mechanical problems, fuel hedging losses and a loss of competitive advantage compared to other airlines.
Therefore, diversification seems to be a way out of its financial difficulties.
Encrypted currency enters the tourism industry
Norwegian Airlines is not the first travel company to accept cryptocurrencies. The California-based online travel agency CheapAir has accepted bitcoin payments since 2013. American travel company Expedia accepts Bitcoin booking hotels and airline tickets through Coinbase.
The Australian company TravelbyBit also provides cryptocurrency payment services for local merchants. The company has received $100,000 in investment from the Queensland government.
TravelbyBit CEO Caleb Yeoh said:
"If you plan to travel around the world, you have to deal with multiple currencies. The exchange rate problem can be complicated. Sometimes it is difficult for you to find an ATM machine, or even a money changer. So, use a global currency on the road – – For example, bitcoin makes sense."
It seems now that cryptocurrencies may really become popular in the tourism industry.