Billionaire Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos launched the Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) in April, a company executives say “will explore and exploit potential opportunities that lie in blockade and ledger technology.”
The company raised $250,000 in a first capital round and is owned by a company called Observatoriet Invest, although Stig Kjos-Mathisen, Kjos’ son-in-law and chairman of NBX, says Norwegian will be the main owner of the exchange in time.
NBX is rolling out a cryptocurrency exchange later this year and will also be opening up the airline business for cryptocurrency adoption.
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“We’re look at things that are easy to scale. Among other things, having a crypto currency as payment option in the airline,” Kjos-Mathisen said yesterday. “We see that there is a need for a serious marketplace where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies.”
NBX has ambitious plans with a goal of rivaling exchanges like GDAX and Kraken.
Norwegian Air Shuttle is the largest airline in Scandinavia, the third-largest low-cost airline in Europe, and the ninth-largest low-cost carrier in the world, having transported 30 million people in 2016. Norwegian operates in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and runs 500 routes to 150 destinations in 35 countries.
“One of the most important thing for us is to build an ecosystem around the solutions we develop. In particular, the ecosystem within the Norwegian group is important, but also ecosystems in the airline industry,” said Kjos-Mathisen.
Norway has not always been hospitable to cryptocurrencies, with small crypto exchange Bitmynt AS losing a lawsuit against Nordea Bank recently. That said, adoption and integration is on the rise — the nation’s largest bank has adopted bitcoin integration and the central bank even proposed a state-issued cryptocurrency as an alternative to cash.
Stig-Mathisen states that he is not concerned with regulation, saying that he met with financial regulators recently.
“It is not long since we met with the Financial supervisory authority. My impression is that they are positive about the technology and do not want to inhibit the adaptation, but they have a cautious approach.”
The relationship between a major airline and a related crypto exchange could be a very interesting one, with Stig-Mathisen citing KYC processes as being much smoother for existing Norwegian customers with registered passports on the system. By looking at both blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption for the airline in conjunction with a new cryptocurrency exchange, the wealthy Norwegian family could be about to make some big moves in the world of air travel business for crypto.
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