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Being Digital Series: Blockchain

What is Blockchain? It's being described in the same game changing way as the Internet was being described in the early 90's, people aren't sure what or how it will be applied, but it is ushering in a similar tectonic shift in the way the people and things verify and exchange information and assets.

image[15]Blockchain fundamentally is based on two foundational elements:

  1. Asymmetric cryptography
  2. Distributed systems.

Leveraging these two technical components gives blockchain the ability to:

  1. Create records that are immutable
  2. Create transactions for exchanging information, assets or value that update those records
  3. Automate updates to the records via things or smart contracts

Blockchain eschews centralized records in favor of decentralized distributed networks that work as a cooperative. Bitcoin is perhaps the most well known implementation of blockchain concepts, although there are many other applications being explored. For a quick overview of blockchain concepts, please see the video, Understand the Blockchain in Two Minutes.

By 2020, we are going to see many industry verticals, including airlines, delivering high value to both themselves and their ecosystem of partners and suppliers using blockchain technology. - Casey Kuhlman, CEO, Monax

This could have value within the airline industry where data sharing across multiple entities, including other airlines, airport operators, ground handlers, travel distribution companies, air traffic management and government agencies occurs on a regular basis. There are a multitude of opportunities to streamline current processes including baggage tracking, cargo manifests, aircraft history and maintenance.

Guest Journey

Perhaps the greatest use cases for blockchain are in relation to guest identification and authentication during steps of the journey, reducing friction, complexity and cost.

With a blockchain enabled journey, travelers need only be identified once at the start of the journey, be it at check-in, bag-drop or boarding. Once identified, the tokenized identity could be entered into a  blockchain mechanism, eliminating the need for multiple document checks without passengers having to share their personal data.

Identification of a guest could be captured via biometrics such as a facial scan or fingerprint check at the first touch point in the journey. The scanned image is checked against the digital image stored within the passenger’s travel document, and then combined with the guest's boarding pass information to create a secure single token. Then, at each step of the journey – from check-in, bag drop, to aircraft boarding – guests gain access simply with a facial scan without having to show their passport or boarding pass.

Flight Information

With flight information, we understand that an airline has access to certain data; the airport has other information and then we have the passengers themselves who look at their phones and check the airline app and its saying a different thing to airport screens. Identifying the lineage or source of the data would help mitigate these conflicts

Baggage Handling

For example, data about a specific bag, belonging to a specific passenger be public. But the sharing of the bag’s journey from origin, through to connecting airports before arriving at its destination requires that the bag be processed by multiple different parties. Placing a bag within the context of the blockchain would enable it to be tracked in real-time and the data made available to all parties that would need to have access to it.

You can store digital records on the blockchain; transfer ownership of digital asserts on blockchain; and execute smart contracts. Blockchain gives everyone the necessary confidence that they are looking at the correct data.

  • Store digital records - Bag Drop, Bag Tag Scanning 
  • Transfer ownership of digital assets - Transfer bag to connecting flight / airline
  • Execute Smart Contracts - Baggage Guarantee, Compensation to Guest

Guest Compensation

Cryptocurrency Travacoin was developed by the Travacoin startup specially for airlines and travel agencies as a payment system of compensation for denied boarding, long delays and cancellations.

Resources

Background Information

Industry Initiatives

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