Webjet signs travel agencies onto blockchain

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Webjet signs travel agencies onto blockchain

Microsoft PoC expands to as-a-service offering.

Australian travel booking firm Webjet has signed up three travel agencies and a hotel chain to a blockchain solution it has built with Microsoft to address data exchange issues in the travel industry.

Webjet has been working on its Rezchain blockchain platform for the past two years. It developed a proof-of-concept solution with Microsoft, hosted in Azure, at the end of 2016 and moved the technology into pilot stage last year.

The solution is intended to remove the costly errors that can occur through the travel booking process due to numerous handovers of data through myriad different systems.

"Every day there are millions of transactions taking place and a single hotel stay could involve five or more transactions in the distribution chain," Webjet managing director John Guscic said at the time.

"This marketplace can be prone to data discrepancies due to the volume of bookings passing through multiple systems."

Webjet says about one in 10 room bookings need some manual intervention, and for one in 25 bookings, travel service providers don't get paid for their services.

The firm initially deployed the solution within its own operations, but has long eyed commercial opportunities within the 250,000 hotels it partners with, as well as many other third parties.

Webjet today revealed it had signed up European travel firm Thomas Cook, China's DidaTravel, Indonesia's Mitra Global, and hotel chain Fat East Hospitality.

Webjet says there is no technical integration needed by Rezchain participants; "a simple daily file is all that is necessary to match data".

Initially the company is offering Rezchain as-a-service to help ease the barrier for entry, but says it expects its clients will start contributing compute power and running their own mining nodes over time.

Its ethereum blockchain solution involves a smart contract that creates an indisputable and permanent record of a hotel booking between two parties. Copies of the ledger are held across multiple decentralised, distributed processing nodes. 

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