Peach Aviation Ltd. will become the first Japanese carrier to accept bitcoin as payment for airline tickets as the discount airline aims to attract more tourists from other parts of Asia.
The cryptocurrency can be used to book seats starting by the end of the year, Peach said in a statement in Tokyo Monday, adding a change in Japan’s law on fund settlements in April helped facilitate the move. The carrier also aims to increase tie-ups with local governments and regional companies to help spread usage of the currency, it said.
“We want to encourage visitors from overseas and the revitalization of Japan’s regions,” Shinichi Inoue, chief executive officer of Peach told reporters in Tokyo Monday. “This is a real first step in partnerships for Japan and we are aiming for more company and service tie-ups.”
Bitcoin is surging in popularity as the digital payment system that allows users anywhere in the world to transact directly without interference from intermediaries, governments, regulators or central banks. Latvian airline airBaltic announced almost three years ago that it would start accepting payment using bitcoin as it focuses on the customer.
The electronic currency surged as much as 13 percent to a record $2,187.78 on Monday, and is trading about 70 percent above the price of an ounce of gold, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has more than doubled its value since the beginning of the year amid global political uncertainty and increased interest in Asia. Skeptics have said that there may be a bubble in the making, as bitcoin has repeatedly broken records without showing signs of slowing.
Universal Air Travel Plan teamed up with Bitnet as a payment processing partner more than two years ago to allow it to offer the ability to accept bitcoin payments in a simplified manner to its network of more than 260 airlines, according to a statement from UATP.