In 2013, online travel booking agency CheapAir.com took the unprecedented move of becoming the first, online travel agency in the U.S. to allow holidaymakers to pay for their flights and hotels with bitcoin. Now, it’s going one step further by revealing that it is to accept three altcoins in the market that make up the top 15.
With over 1,600 cryptocurrencies, 1,300 of which have a market cap value, according to CoinMarketCap, interest in the sector is continuing to grow. As a result, holders of other currencies are keen to use them for everyday purchases.
“Right now we are in the early stages, but at CheapAir.com we see a future where travellers and travel companies are more accepting of digital currencies, and one where blockchain technologies play a larger role in payments from consumers and with our business partners,” said Jeff Klee, CEO and founder of CheapAir.com, to CoinJournal.
Even though bitcoin remains the number one cryptocurrency, issues still plague it which are preventing it from catapulting into the mainstream. These include problems with scalability and slow transaction speeds. As a result, and in response to customer demands, the travel booking agency looked at Litecoin, Dash and BCH all of which they feel promise improved transactability than bitcoin, with faster transaction times and/or lower fees.
“Our cryptocurrency customers tend to be very vocal about what they want, something we appreciate very much,” said Klee. “Over the last six months, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of customers requesting alternative currencies, so we’ve worked hard to integrate the three that were most requested.”
Klee acknowledges that challenges are involved when it comes to accepting digital currencies on behalf of airline and hotel suppliers who insist on being paid in fiat currencies. Klee adds, though, that they already ‘had the plumbing in place to make digital currency payments work seamlessly for our customers and suppliers.’
In April, CheapAir.com announced that it was switching bitcoin payment processors due to a service change by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. In the announcement, the company said that the San Francisco-based exchange would ‘no longer support ‘custodial’ solutions for merchants, and are removing a number of the tools and features that we rely on to accept bitcoin from CheapAir.com shoppers.’
It added that a possible solution lay with bitcoin payments processor BitPay; however, while the agency stated that the integration was largely complete, it doesn’t foresee a smooth transition as previously thought.
“Our one giant concern is that BitPay does not support ‘non-payment protocol wallets’ (wallets that aren’t BIP-70 compliant),” the notice read. “So if you do not have a compatible wallet, you would have to get one and use it as an intermediate stage for your bitcoin payment.”