Lufthansa, Germany’s airline giant and Europe’s biggest airline with yearly revenue of $37 billion, announced today they are to invest in the pre-sale of an ethereum based ICO.
“In order to finance the initial development and facilitate acceptance by suppliers, Winding Tree is launching a token sale of its cryptocurrency “Líf” on the 1st of November.
To reinforce its confidence in the new technology, Lufthansa Group is participating in the presale after regulatory clearance from Swiss authorities,” the airline said.
Winding Tree is building a “decentralized alternative, to the current concentrated travel distribution landscape, where anyone can access inventory directly from the suppliers,” they say.
With the start-up complaining that the current ticket distribution is concentrated into B2B intermediaries. Something they wish to change by providing “access to the inventory directly at the source enabling permissionless innovation.”
Markus Binkert, Senior Vice President for Distribution & Revenue Management at Lufthansa Group Airlines said:
“Lufthansa Group has engaged in the development of APIs, for instance supporting IATA NDC standard, to offer a direct access to its offers to customers and distribution partners.
By integrating these APIs with Winding Tree’s public blockchain Lufthansa Group enables all innovative partners who develop cutting-edge travel applications to access these offers via a decentralized and intermediate-free travel marketplace.”
This is the first time, as far as we are aware, that such an established company from a non-tech sector is investing in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Maksim Izmaylov, Founder and CEO of Winding Tree, said:
“The partnership with the Lufthansa Group will allow us to build blockchain-based travel apps which not only adhere to the requirements of airlines but we will be able to test these with Europe’s largest airline, further validating the efficiency and scalability of the platform. Lufthansa Group is setting an example for the travel industry.”
They are also in effect endorsing this very new method of raising funds, which has regulators, VCs, banks, and traditional angel investors, scratching their head trying to figure out the risks and potential gains of blockchain based direct fundraising.
In this case, the efforts are being led by Lufthansa’s Innovation Hub, with Dr. Christian Langer, Chief Digital Officer of Lufthansa Group stating:
“As the digital spearhead of Lufthansa Group in the global startup ecosystem, the Lufthansa Innovation Hub is continuously on the lookout for startups and new technologies with the potential to significantly improve the way we travel tomorrow. To us, Winding Tree is a strong candidate to turn todays understanding of distribution upside down.”
Perhaps. Because whether they’ll be able to execute on their idea of disrupting intermediaries remains to be seen.
But what has become clear this year is that the digital revolution has entered a new stage, eyeing for disruption a variety of industries, from banking to flying.