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Airbnb eyes integrating digital currency payments and blockchain

Vacation rental giant Airbnb is planning to integrate blockchain technology and digital currency within their business, in a move that could see millions of customers from around the world interact with digital currencies for the first time on the platform.

According to its IPO prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Airbnb is exploring several applications of blockchain technology. Previously, the company had said it was not planning to support cryptocurrency payments.

In the filing, Airbnb said its future success will depend on its ability to embrace new technologies such as blockchain, in order to support and develop its platform.

“Future success will…depend on our ability to adapt to emerging technologies such as tokenization, cryptocurrencies, and new authentication technologies. As a result, we intend to continue to spend significant resources maintaining, developing, and enhancing our technologies and platform. However, these efforts may be more costly than expected and may not be successful.”

In particular, the filing addresses the challenges faced by the company as a result of travel restrictions prompted by COVID-19, which saw revenues plunge 39% on last year.

“In early 2020, as COVID-19 disrupted travel across the world, Airbnb’s business declined significantly, but within two months, our business model started to rebound even with limited international travel, demonstrating its resilience.”

Despite its previous rejection of digital currencies, the filing shows Airbnb may be changing its mind, part of a wider trend towards large companies embracing digital currency payments in recent months.

Airbnb is amongst a number of international companies to begin accepting digital currencies in the wake of the pandemic. Most notably, online payments firm PayPal now allows its users to transact in cryptocurrencies, opening up all PayPal-supported merchants to receive payment in digital currency.

Should Airbnb officially onboard digital currency payments, the move would be expected to generate significant interest within the Bitcoin is community, as well as raising the profile of digital currencies for payment more widely.

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