Singapore Airlines will use blockchain to launch a world-first loyalty digital wallet that allows frequent flyers to buy products in everyday settings using Krisflyer miles.
The encryption technology means KrisFlyer members will be able to use a wallet app using “digital KrisFlyer miles” to buy goods and services at participating retailers.
The digital wallet is expected to be rolled out in about six months and will use a privately owned blockchain involving only merchants and partners.
Blockchain was invented as the technology behind bitcoin but it is now being linked to potential applications ranging from copyright protection to voting and airport security.
Banks are also looking at the technology in variety of applications such as clearing and settlement, payments and customer verification.
“In a really simplistic form, it’s basically turning Krisflyer miles into digital currency,’’ an SIA spokesman said.
This meant that once partners had been signed up a Krisflyer member could in theory go to a café, buy a cup of coffee and use their Krisflyer barcode to pay for it, the spokesman said.
The app would then deduct Krisflyer miles from the purchaser’s account.
The airline said the move came after a successful proof-of-concept exercise involving KMPG Digital Village and Microsoft.
“Innovation has been a key contributor to the success of Singapore Airlines since Day 1 and we are very excited about this world-first initiative, which will bring even more benefits to members of our KrisFlyer programme,” Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong said in a statement.
“This ground-breaking development in which we will be using blockchain technology to ‘digitalise’ KrisFlyer miles is a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers.
“It is in line with our recently unveiled Digital Innovation Blueprint, under which we aim to be the world’s leading digital airline.”