Air New Zealand has already announced interesting endeavors for 2018 by exploring blockchain innovation through Winding Tree. By utilizing the ethereum blockchain, this Swiss travel platform aims to improve efficiency by cutting out the middleman between suppliers such as airlines and hotels with sellers. Its potential for Air New Zealand is wide ranging from retail to distribution to cargo and baggage tracking and loyalty program. Through the establishment of safer and streamlined methods in exchanging goods or information, customers are expected to benefit from lower transactional price.
The person responsible for this movement in Air New Zealand would be their chief digital office, Avi Golan who comes with a wide range of experience from Amazon to Barnes and Noble and Intuit. Unexpectedly recruited from Silicon Valley, Air New Zealand’s CEO Christopher Luxon was specifically targeting a pioneer in technology and innovation. As the national airline of New Zealand, Air New Zealand is highly rated and sits in the list of top 20 airlines in the world according to Skytrax.
Blockchain is a relatively new technology founded circa 2008 with its first uses being the now infamous bitcoin. Many applications for this technology has since been made available and widespread usage are expected. But, what exactly is blockchain? Blockchain is a decentralized system that allows every permitted participant a copy of the database and the ability to track all the updates in it. This cuts off the middleman, which is the central database system that we are mostly on. If one of the databases is altered, other participants can easily detect it. This leaves no room for data manipulation. Basically, the blockchain is a set of codes built from the traditional contract that can be stored, duplicated, maintained, and supervised by a network of computers. The offspring from this technology is a smart contract that allows self-executing transfer of payment and receiving of product or service.
So, how is ethereum, the platform being used by Winding Tree different from bitcoin? While bitcoin is solely a currency, ethereum is a ledger technology with vast applications. Platforms built on ethereum require computing power that is paid for with ether, the currency for the ethereum platoform. Long story short is tha the fundamental difference between bitcoin and ethereum is while the formal is disruptive for currency, the latter is disruptive for equity.
While I battle the long queue during the Christmas holidays to check-in my baggage, I struggle to understand the customer service officer having to restart the baggage check-in counter computer for the fifth time as our queue grow longer and longer. I queried him if this happens often and he said it’s the first time. Airlines can definitely do with improved efficiency and if Mr. Golan is pioneering that for Air New Zealand, we have a lot to look forward to in 2018.