Using blockchain to streamline airline finance
Promising applications ready to take flight
If you find yourself reading about blockchain, but frustrated by the seeming lack of practical applications, you're not alone. In the airline industry, where operational finance needs are so specialised, it may seem especially hard to pair the new technology with potential ways to use it. But the opportunities are there, and some first-movers are already working to explore them.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is a “distributed ledger technology” that allows digital assets such as currency, identity—or the status of physical assets like parts—to be transacted in near real-time, tamper-proof manner. It creates a verifiable record of every transaction with low friction, prompt settlement, and built-in privacy. This new capability is only one of many digital disruptors that are shaking up other industries and bringing change to airline finance operations.
The blockchain opportunity for airlines
Airline leaders are already familiar with robotic process automation (RPA). Another familiar vector of disruptive innovation involves cognitive computing and machine learning. Now, blockchain is making fast inroads, and a lot of finance decision-makers are hurrying along the learning curve. As with other technologies, airline CFOs need more than attractive promises—they need proof of real solutions so they can make the right decisions for their organisations.
In the airline industry, where concerns like safety and regulation make it unlikely to find first movers rushing into new technologies, blockchain faces a high bar for proof of concept. Still, a quick look around reveals that some of your competitors have already found places to pilot blockchain in their own operations.
The applications may include:
- Parts tracking
- Customer loyalty programs
- Engine and parts leasing through smart contracts
- Interlining and revenue recognition
- Airport slot management