Wednesday , February 20, 2019

Cryptocurrencies Take off With Travel Site

Customer demand has prompted to accept three more cryptocurrencies in addition to Bitcoin, which the travel-booking site began accepting in 2013.

The new ones are Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash. These three currencies promise faster transaction times and lower fees than Bitcoin and are the most-requested cryptocurrencies among those customers are asking to CheapAir to add, according to the airline, hotel, and car-rental booking site. Bitcoin experienced a huge run-up in its price late last year, a development that caused processing times to slow to a crawl at times and raised user fees, though the situation has eased in recent months.

Customer demand to pay with cryptocurrencies has been “accelerating quite a bit over the past 12 months,” says CEO Klee.

Calabasas, Calif.-based CheapAir claims it is the first online travel agency to accept Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash for airline and hotel bookings. Adding three more cryptocurrencies is likely to further two key advantages CheapAir gained by adding Bitcoin five years ago, according to chief executive Jeff Klee, who founded the company in 1989 from his college dorm room.

“It has allowed us to reach customers all over the world that we wouldn’t have reached otherwise,” Klee tells Digital Transactions News.

The second advantage of Bitcoin is that its users tend to buy more upgraded airline tickets and stay at fancier hotels than the average CheapAir customer, he says, generating higher margins.

Bitcoin remains a niche payment offering for CheapAir, accounting for “definitely less” than 10% of sales, according to Klee, declining to give numbers. Still, “we’ve done well over $10 million in crypto sales to date.” Klee says. “It’s accelerating quite a bit over the past 12 months.”

Airlines will only accept fiat currencies, Klee notes, which means CheapAir must have cryptocurrency transactions converted into dollars or other official currencies in order to process payments. Despite that, an increasing number of airlines are accepting cryptocurrencies through agreements with payment providers such as UATP, processors, or travel-booking firms.

CheapAir’s cryptocurrency processor since 2013 has been Coinbase, a giant in the market. Due to market changes, however, Klee says CheapAir is shopping for a new processor or might even do its own processing through the BTCPay Server, a free, open-source server for merchants wanting to handle Bitcoin tasks themselves.

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