Bitcoin is the world’s first and highest-valued decentralized digital currency, meaning all transactions take place directly between users without a central administrator or intermediary. It is the most recognized example of a cryptocurrency – “crypto” denotes the highly secure encryption that protects data – which are digital assets built from a technology called “blockchain,” a public, unalterable ledger for recording transaction histories.
Originally associated with the underground internet, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (and competitors like Ethereum and Ripple) have become increasingly common in mainstream businesses. There are numerous reasons why charter companies have begun accepting cryptocurrencies – 24/7 transaction ability, faster processing times, lower fees – but the most common factor is customer feedback.
Adam Twidell, founder and CEO of PrivateFly, was initially turned on to Bitcoin’s business possibilities by a question in a post-flight customer review: “Can I pay in bitcoins next time?”
“I started to investigate and couldn’t find a good reason not to accept it,” said Twidell, whose company began taking Bitcoin payments in 2014.
After learning how simple it was to set up the company’s secure cryptocurrency wallet – a software program that effectively stores bitcoins, enables transactions and monitors the user’s balance – the decision ultimately came down to providing the best customer-service experience possible.
“We don’t have the luxury as a charter company to dictate to our customers how they interact with us,” said Twidell. “Bitcoin is just another payment method we put in front of the customer that they’re welcome to use or not use.”
Cryptocurrency payment options may also open doors to new customers. Bloomberg recently reported that more than 58 percent of American Bitcoin investors are between the ages of 18 and 34 and, according to Wasim Omar, flight adviser with PrivateFly, the company’s internal reports show that its Bitcoin customers are on average four years younger than typical customers.
While Bitcoin investors can potentially provide charter companies with new clientele, these individuals are also hyper-aware of market forces, as David Gitman, executive director of Monarch Air Group, recently discovered.
“There was a noticeable drop in interest