Singapore Airlines is adding blockchain for frequent flyers

Angus Kidman 6 February 2018 NEWS

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But that doesn't mean you can start exchanging your KrisFlyer points for bitcoin.

Singapore Airlines took a slightly unexpected dive into the world of blockchain today, announcing plans to develop a new blockchain-based wallet for members of its KrisFlyer frequent flyer scheme.

The airline says it has already trialled the technology in a partnership with Microsoft and KPMG and expects to roll out the wallet within the next six months. "This groundbreaking development in which we will be using blockchain technology to 'digitalise' KrisFlyer miles is a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers," Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a statement announcing the move.

It's worth noting that Singapore Airlines isn't going to give you an open-ended wallet which you can spend anywhere that might accept cryptocurrency. It is developing its own private blockchain that will only be used for the scheme. That means you'll only be able to spend the points at selected merchants that have specifically signed up, and initially, only merchants in Singapore will be participating. In effect, that's not much different to using your points balance in an existing online store.

While we'll have to wait to see full details of the scheme when it appears, past experience suggests that you won't get the most bang for your buck by spending points this way. The best way to maximise your points usage is to spend your points on upgrades or free flights, and no amount of blockchain seems likely to change that.

That also makes Singapore's plans very different to the recent scheme from Brisbane Airport, which will let travellers actually pay for goods in the airport using popular cryptocurrencies. Of course, right now guessing how much bitcoin will be worth seems tricky, but it's clear the underlying technology is sticking around.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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