If you’re of a certain age, then you probably remember a time when traveller’s cheques were the only way to carry your currency abroad. I certainly remember traveller’s cheques being all the rage when I took my first solo overseas trip to Europe at 19 years old! Today, there at ATMs available in most destinations, which makes accessing your money whilst on holidays usually quite simple (even in remote places like the Maldives)! Now, the next big thing in the financial world is cryptocurrencies! Imagine a world where you wouldn’t have to rely on finding ATMs or banks on holiday and you could rely on cryptocurrencies to fund your travels? It sounds quite surreal, but in fact some travel companies are already allowing travellers to book and pay for their holiday using cryptocurrencies!
As unbelievable as it may sound right now, placing your hard earned holiday money in a digital wallet may end up being the way of the future. Should this happen, it may be a great way to avoid the sometimes-astronomical fees charged by banks and money exchange companies. But is it viable? Before we come to that decision, let’s look at a few industries that have already adapted to the digital finance world.
The real estate business was one of the first to have numerous big hitters in the industry get behind Bitcoin and Ethereum to pay for a property. I was surprised to discover that there are dozens of houses on the market in the United States where the seller will accept Bitcoin or cash for payment! The concept is simple: there are fewer fees and transactions are considered by many to be far securer and simple to carry out. We recently purchased our first home and our experience with one of the ‘Big Banks’ was certainly not a simple, easy and enjoyable transaction, and we were hit hard (as most are) with huge fees at every stage in the process.
Another industry dipping its toes in the crypto waters is the online gaming industry. A new start-up called CoinPoker allows you to play online using a new currency called Chips (CHP) on their blockchain-based platform. For players and those that run the platform alike, it’s a match made in heaven. If there was ever an industry that should give you a clear indication that something is working or here to stay, it’s the gambling industry. No other niche cares more about the safety of their money than online betting and poker, and if this industry is willing to take that gamble, then we’re inclined to believe there are some positives to it.
So, where do us travellers all fit into this? We can’t expect the guy on the beach in southeast Asia to accept Bitcoin for a coconut, can we? Of course not, but that’s not where we spend most of our money when we travel. The biggest percentage of money spent on travel is on accommodation and of course travel expenses, such as flights, train tickets and even tours! If the hotel industry was to accept cryptocurrencies, it offers all travellers the opportunity to save on accommodation, as by using a globally accepted currency, everyone will save money on those pesky exchange rates! Furthermore, it can be very helpful for people visiting countries where online censorship is rampant such as China. Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin allows travelers to purchase VPNs to bypass censorship without leaving a easily traceable financial record.
Although the travel world is not quite at that point yet, it’s hard to imagine that the big hotel groups will sit by whilst big companies such as Expedia are already accepting Bitcoin! Once that does happen, there is no doubt there will be a flood of service providers in the tourism industry following suit! Experts are predicting that we could see a significant shift in the travel industry as early as next year!