Unblocking blockchain

By Benjamin Coren

Blockchain technology is set to change the way we exchange monetary values and information digitally, but what does it mean for your business?

It helps first to understand that blockchain is a database technology that adds an additional level of security, and can enable digital transactions more safely and transparently. It is decentralised, so exchanges between different parties don’t require an intermediary, such as a bank.

Sarah Pavan, head of Amadeus Innovation Partnership Program, explains: “For blockchains to work each transaction must be verified by every component of the network. This means every transaction that takes place on a blockchain network is transparent and cannot be changed – which is why it is such a reliable way of sending value.”

How it can work for you
As it stands, it is common for numerous stakeholders to work together, “yet much of the data within the travel industry isn’t shared or ends up siloed in an organisation, when it could be useful to others”, adds Pavan, who highlights baggage tracking as an example.
Airlines do not always have access to information from ground-handling services or airports but if a bag is tracked in a blockchain network, all players involved can have a clear, up-to-date view of the bag’s journey and can collaborate more effectively to get it to the right place.

Need to know
Businesses need to be aware of blockchain technology because although there is unlikely to be a sudden shift over to blockchain-based databases, they are a significant innovation and offer many potential benefits, especially as more businesses adopt them. One of the biggest benefits is the security they offer and the integrity of the data they store, encrypted and validated.

“If utilised properly and across the industry blockchain technology could allow for greater collaboration, as information could be shared easily and securely,” says Pavan. “It also has the potential to make loyalty schemes work harder for travellers, as points could be shared easily and act more as cash does.”

There are still challenges. Each party within a blockchain needs to validate a transaction before it is approved and that is not always a quick process. And there are also constraints on how many transactions can be processed per second.

It is still early days for the technology and difficult to predict its impact. However, once technical issues are ironed out and adoption becomes more widespread it will certainly be a technology to watch.