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Webjet Trials Blockchain Booking System For Travel

Australian travel company Webjet has announced plans to trial a blockchain booking system as part of a new working partnership with Microsoft, which could ultimately lead to an overhaul of the travel industry.

The company, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, is testing blockchain technology to determine whether it offers a viable route for creating “shared, independent, trustworthy documents,” according to managing director John Guscic.

The announcement comes just months after Webjet started accepting payment in bitcoin and, according to analysts, arrives after six months of thorough testing behind the scenes.

The move will see Webjet experiment with blockchain technology across various applications, spanning a number of its client services including booking hotel accommodation. Hot on the heels of other major names in the travel and tourism industry, like Airbnb, the sector seems primed to find numerous applications for the ledger technology underpinning bitcoin.

While the testing represents exciting possibilities for Webjet, and potentially for the wider industry, Guscic is keen to stress the importance of growing the pilot project before committing to wider applications.

“We realized facilitating bookings in the travel industry could become an additional business we could enter in the future, and the same technology could also help solve problems outside the travel industry.”

The hookup between Webjet and Microsoft will see the former develop on Microsoft’s Azure platform, which both companies hope will present opportunities for other third-party developers to build on this technology.

Microsoft Azure’s chief technology officer, Mark Russinovich, described the transformative potential of the project.

“By working with Webjet to use our digital platform, together we have created an innovative blockchain solution in Australia that has the potential to not only transform the travel industry but many other industries as well,” Russinovich said.

The partnership will be one to watch for keen followers of blockchain, which is enjoying significant funding and development attention as major companies worldwide compete to find their own industry-defining applications.

With Airbnb and other industry competitors already on the case, Webjet is hoping to steal some ground on the rest of the field, ahead of even further market adoption of this type of technology.