AirAsia’s In-Flight FinTech Platform Awaits Launch

Major Asian low-cost carrier Air Asia is expecting to launch its FinTech program upon approval by Malaysia’s central bank in three months.

Air Asia is awaiting the go-ahead from Bank Negara Malaysia to launch a FinTech program dubbed “The Big”. The airline’s chief executive Tony Fernandes revealed the FinTech platform would provide banking and financial services, as well as serve as a platform to facilitate in-flight purchases for over 60 million people flying Air Asia flights annually.

While details are scarce, local publication Bernama quotes Fernandes as saying:

This would ease the purchase process in the future, especially when AirAsia aims to achieve a record of 100 million customers flying with us by 2021.

The chief executive also revealed that roughly 25% of AirAsia flight bookings were currently made through an online system and the endeavor to establish a FinTech platform is expected to boost that number.

AirAsia already has a partnership in place with MasterCard to offer a multi-currency as a part of its ‘BIG Prepaid’ program. The wallet includes a virtual payments option and is used as a feature of the loyalty program offering to AirAsia’s frequent flyers.

Cashless Travel

Air Asia’s revelation about developing its FinTech platform comes at a time when Japanese airline Peach Aviation, a low-cost carrier owned by Japan’s largest airline ANA, became the first in the east Asian nation to accept bitcoin as payment for flight tickets.

The budget airline’s CEO Shinichi Inoue foresees a future wherein travelers will not be required to carry physical cash or cards, for tickets or purchases at the airport.

Inoue stated:

I will devote myself entirely to enable people to travel without wallets.

To this end, Peach has partnered with Japanese bitcoin startup BITPoint to enable bitcoin payments at souvenir shops, restaurants and lodging facilities at airports. The airline will also install bitcoin ATMs near ticketing counters across multiple airports in Japan.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
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