Irish start-up plans to use block chain to compensate airline passengers

 Thursday, November 8, 2018 


An Irish start-up is using block chain technology to ensure airline passengers are better informed and immediately get compensation or a refund when flights are delayed or cancelled.



Travacoin, a bitcoin payments company founded by aviation industry veteran Brian Whelan, is looking to raise up to €1.5 million in funding to turn its minimum viable product into a fully working solution that would allow airlines to pay out digital tokens to affected passengers in the event of disruption.



The hope is that the new mobile app would be a win-win for everyone associated with passengers getting timely information and compensation straight away, airlines escaping the bad publicity that usually comes when flights are disrupted, and airports, hotels and retailers all gaining as travellers opt to spend their unexpected windfall locally once they have received their tokens.



It might seem like an impossible pipedream but Mr. Whelan believes he can make it all work.



He told that the airlines could contact passengers and inform them that they have both good and bad news. The bad news is the flight is delayed for a few hours but the good news is that they are going to give you a couple of hundred euros in tokens right now. The result for passengers is that don’t have to fight with airlines to get compensation. Furthermore, they could also be offered discounts by other partners to encourage them to spend those tokens in or around the airport.



Travacoin, which is based at NovaUCD and is a recipient of grant funding from Enterprise Ireland, is currently in talks with a number of big-name airlines, airports, high-profile foreign-exchange focused companies and other interested parties over the solution, which would be based on blockchain technology.



Mr Whelan spent a decade working as a communications consultant to the Irish aviation regulator before setting up his own online service Airtaxback to help passengers recover unused taxes, fees and charges arising from missed flights. Through that business, he later joined forces with Airhelp. com, a service that recovers compensation for passengers whose flights have been delayed or cancelled.


He is the first to acknowledge that there will likely be heavy cynicism from passengers regarding the willingness of carriers to pay out compensation.


Mr Whelan’s business idea received a gong at the Passenger Innovation Awards at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Symposium in Dubai in October 2016. He has since gone on to develop the minimum viable product with technical assistance from WiPro and is now looking to introduce a full-blown solution shortly.

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