InterviewsTech

Applications of Blockchain in the Travel Industry

Exclusive interview with Christopher Cleverly, CEO of Kamari

For those who don’t truly understand, what is blockchain?

Blockchain simply put is a publicly visible ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency economy.

One of the great things about blockchain is the evolution it has brought to ledgers. Ledgers began hundreds of years ago in London. When a boat went out to get goods, people had shares in that ship, and would invest in it. When the ship returned with the bounty and spices, they would give a portion back to the investors. However, only one person would write this down in a book. Chances are, they were skimming off the top, or perhaps intoxicated. Flash forward to today, and blockchain technology is upgrading that ledger technology to something that is decentralised, distributed and public, which means that we can control the narrative and not rely on some guy in a bank, in the government on the other side of the planet.

How does this technology apply to the current travel landscape?

Blockchain technology, and specifically public ledger technology, can easily transform the travel sector. Given that traveling and tourism largely rely on the trust of individual industries, cities, and businesses, increasing that trust would improve the business potential of whoever maintained the highest trust.

On a strictly emotional level, it’s easy to see how blockchain and publicly visible data would improve the hospitality industry. If consumers can see exactly what plane ticket they are buying, or view how many transactions have occurred for a specific vendor, then it’s evident that those with the best reputation will see an increase in growth.

What are the applications of blockchain to the travel industry?

Blockchain has real life applicability to the travel industry. Travellers have to deal with multiple parties during any form of travel. When planning a trip, people have to deal with reserving transportation, booking hotels, locating activities, and currency exchange. All of these could utilize blockchain technologies to improve efficiencies and improve trust in the travel industry.

Looking at the hospitality industry, are there challenges that blockchain could solve?

The hospitality industry is rife with challenges that blockchain can solve. Through smart contracts, fraud can be reduced during check-out scenarios for consumers looking to purchase airline tickets, or lodging accommodations.

Blockchain can also solve the mesmerizing and confusing challenge of transaction fees which plague the travel industry. With transaction data publicly visible, it would reduce the need for travel companies to maintain their connections to the variety of GDSs that they work with, which can reduce costs to consumers. Additionally, if a consumer were able to exchange currencies for their intended country through the same portal that they bought their airline tickets, this would reduce additional unnecessary transaction fees.

Africa is relatively behind in the adoption of new tech, when do you think Africa would see a tipping point in blockchain adoption?

I believe that the transformation has already started in Africa. What’s great about the current African landscape is that many countries and economies are eager for tech investment, and many tech companies are eager to implement their new technologies. Since blockchain applications are more than just patches to existing infrastructures and industries, these companies can start fresh in industries that haven’t been reformed in decades.

Who would have the most to gain from the adoption of blockchain?

Everyone will benefit from mass adoption of blockchain, but the rural and urban poor in Sub-Saharan Africa will see the biggest change. Hundreds of millions can potentially be lifted out of poverty through a continent wide shift to blockchain infrastructure. With the majority of African countries suffering from high to super-high interest rates, Africans who want to invest their savings will see their financial livelihoods forever changed.

About Christopher Cleverly: CEO of Kamari

A barrister by profession, Dr. Chris Cleverly has made it his mission to help bring development mechanisms to Africa which can empower Africans to seize their own destiny. His journey on this mission began during the 1990s when he attended King’s Law College and became a barrister. After graduating, he founded the Trafalgar Chambers in the U.K., and became the youngest head of chambers in over a century. In 2005 he founded the Made In Africa Foundation, an organization he has guided to fulfill his dream of bringing systemic infrastructure change to Africa. Today, he is CEO of Kamari, a blockchain project building an ecosystem of lotteries, mobile gaming, and payments for one billion people across Africa.

Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa

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