Brisbane Airport, one of Australia’s biggest airports, has announced that it would soon start accepting Bitcoin as a mode of payment. It said a selection of other virtual currencies, including Dash, Steem, Litecoin and Ethereum.
It made the announcement after signing an agreement with tourism company TravelbyBit Australia.
According to The Telegraph, the deal will let passengers flying in and out of the Queensland capital pay using the internet-only money in the airport’s shops, bars and restaurants.
The move is an important stride into the future, according to Roel Hellemons, the airport’s General Manager of Strategic Planning and Development.
“Many people around the world have made money investing in cryptocurrencies, and a lot of these people travel internationally,” he told Travelmole. “So it makes sense to offer a digital currency experience within our terminals.”
“We’re also proud to be the first airport in the world to achieve this in partnership with a small local start-up business such as TravelbyBit, whose pioneering thinking is drawing attention to Brisbane as a serious breeding ground of innovation.
“This is just the beginning for us, as we hope to expand the digital currency option across the business.”
TravelbyBit markets itself as a digital currency expert, and says that “we design tourist routes and provide selected providers with our very own digital currency payment platform.
“As a traveller, you pay in the digital currency of your choice.”
The company’s CEO Caleb Yeoh also has enthusiastic words for the tie-in with Brisbane Airport, and says paying in Bitcoin makes increasing sense for travellers.
“We are building a genuine use case for cryptocurrencies in the tourism industry,” he says. “The application of digital currencies in this sector makes a lot of sense.
“Whenever you travel overseas, you have to deal with multiple currencies and you never know what exchange rates the banks are charging you.
“Here at TravelbyBit we are promoting the Bitcoin travel movement. It’s simple, safe, and there are no bank fees.”
Those used to making traditional transactions by cash or credit card may not yet be convinced that Bitcoin, whose value has wavered enormously in recent months, is anything more than a passing fad.
It is a peer-to-peer financial system which operates outside the influence of conventional banks, and has existed for less than a decade – it was first referred to in October 2008.
However, Australia has proved receptive to Bitcoin’s use.
A budget statement last July declared that crypto-currencies would effectively be treated as money.
“The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia,” the statement read.
“From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST [Goods and Services Tax], allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes.
“Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.”
Major companies to accept Bitcoin include Microsoft, Expedia and PayPal.
Brisbane Airport may be the first institution of its kind to make this leap forward – but it will surely not be the last.