A new co-operative project has been launched to build a block-chain-based billing and settlement platform for the travel industry.
Dolphin Dynamics’ Roberto Da Re is spearheading the new blockchain platform, called Travel Ledger, which aims to build a distributed billing and settlement platform for the travel industry.
Da Re began working on the concept in spring 2017, and has been working full-time on the project since last October after relinquishing his day-to-day duties at Dolphin Dynamics.
The UK’s Intuitive and Australia’s Tourism Technology will work with Dolphin Dynamics on Travel Ledger, while other travel technology companies and a major OTA are also in discussion about joining.
Once the project has been brought to market, it will then be handed over to the Travel Ledger Alliance – a not-for-profit organisation that will govern the platform going forward.
The Travel Ledger platform will allow all billing records between buyers and sellers of travel products to be stored in a shared, decentralised and authenticated ledger, establishing a “single source of truth” for all parties. Furthermore, it will support settling or recording of payments in a secure and transparent manner.
For travel companies using Travel Ledger, their existing processes will not change. The transaction on Travel Ledger will be completely invisible to the user and, depending on how automated their back office system is, it will further automate the travel purchasing and settlement process.
While the initial release will be focused on the delivery of the seller statement to the buyer, subsequent phases will focus on automating the payment aspect; acting as a gateway for bank payments, credit/debit cards and even cryptocurrencies, to offer companies a full breadth of ways to do business together, without having funds transition via any third party. Once payments are integrated, sellers will then be able to automatically process and reconcile all payments on the receiving end.
The project is being built on the Ethereum platform, currently considered one of the most mature and enterprise-ready smart contract platforms.
The governing body, the Travel Ledger Alliance, will be composed of a small board of advisors and an operational body to manage the platform and the development team, plus a business development team promoting the API to travel technology companies.
This API combined with a financial reward will incentivise travel technology companies to integrate with the platform and enable their customers to use the platform without needing to fund the integration; helping to rapidly attain broad adoption across the industry.
Da Re said: ”The billing and settlement area in travel has been crying out for proper automation for years. We have such a good example with Iata’s BSP, now blockchain and smart contract technology presents a unique opportunity to create such a platform for non-air transactions in a cost-efficient way whilst putting the community itself in control.”
To ensure that Travel Ledger is truly an industry initiative, both owned and run by the travel community, voting rights will be granted to the companies providing power to the network (the masternodes) and to the holders of the value token used on the platform.
Graeme Hunter, Tourism Technology managing director, added: "From an automation perspective, payment processing and reconciliation is quite outdated in our industry. This platform will bring long overdue efficiencies to all parties and will create the backbone to make further use of blockchain technology into the future.”
Paul Nixon, managing directive of Intuitive, said: “This project will deliver an immediate benefit to the implementing companies. Intuitive are delighted to be involved in an initiative that employs the innovative implementation of emerging technology to solve a long-standing industry problem that impacts the entire supply chain.”
Roberto further remarked, “While similar schemes have been attempted before and there are niche examples of this working in some countries or verticals, the business model we propose can make this a truly global initiative, delivering huge benefits to all travel companies worldwide.”
Companies interested in following the project should sign up for the newsletter on the Travel Ledger Alliance website at travelledger.org, and get in touch via the same website if they are interested in joining the founders team.
Da Re will be talking about the potential of blockchain technology during a seminar at the Travel Technology Europe.
The whitepaper and full details of the project are currently being shared only with the founders. A public version of the whitepaper will be published ahead of the token generation event.