Blockchain blockbuster: is the travel industry’s invisible battle over?

Back in 2015, when Lufthansa decided to introduce a surcharge on all reservations coming through the global distribution systems (GDSs), Max Izmaylov had just started to think about Winding Tree.

“I was doing a lot of research to fundamentally understand why the travel industry is so behind in terms of technology and had been talking to people like Norm Rose,” says the software engineer, entrepreneur and hacker, who cites JavaScript as one of the five languages he speaks, along with mother-tongue Russian, as well as Czech, English and Spanish.

Rose, a recognised expert in emerging technology and, specifically, its impact on the travel industry, is now president of Winding Tree, which has been established as a not-for-profit foundation.

So, when Lufthansa decided to openly go to war with the GDSs, Izmaylov took this as confirmation that he was on the right track. “Lufthansa has been very progressive and fundamentally understands the challenge facing travel suppliers,” he explains.

So progressive, that last month the German airline made another powerful statement. It threw its support behind Winding Tree by pre-buying into an undisclosed quantity of Lif tokens, the travel industry’s answer to Bitcoin or Ethereum, which will facilitate transactions, and enable governance of the platform. The token fund-raising sale, which was scheduled for this week, has now been postponed until February to comply with Swiss regulations.

“We needed Lufthansa’s expertise and they are willing to give it to us; they are willing to back a project like this,” says Izmaylov, who argues that the German carrier is “moving blazingly fast compared to other airlines”.

Initially, a subset of the airline’s flight inventory will be integrated into the blockchain, but the plan is that this will be increased gradually.

Public vs. Private

Blockchain is certainly the talk of the travel town right now, but there is an important distinction to make between public and what Izmaylov likes to refer to as “nonsense” private platforms.

Like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Winding Tree is a public blockchain, an open, permission-less network in which anybody can participate, and nobody dictates the rules.

Read rest of the article at Eye for Travel