Financial services giant MasterCard win a patent for blockchain system that makes it possible for travelers to provide favorite itineraries and merchants to provide bids for each service request.
Awarded to MasterCard by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 7, the patent seeks to streamline the international travel industry by linking travelers to various hotels, airlines, and other service providers compared to what is presently offered by others before booking their itineraries.
According to the patent:
“The use of a blockchain can ensure that a traveler’s desired travel itinerary is publicly accessible to each merchant that is capable of bidding on the itinerary. This enables all travel providers to have an equal opportunity to earn the business of a traveler, without requiring the traveler to seek out every potential travel provider, and without the travel provider having to expend significant resources on marketing and outreach.”
In the proposed system, travelers will be able to provide detailed information regarding their choice of itineraries, who will be put in a block and broadcast across the blockchain to all network-connected nodes. Traders will then offer bids for reservation requests, which will be checked by a processing server and handed over to the traveler.
“The use of bidding can enable travel providers to make adjustments as necessary to earn business as they desire, which can also enable a traveler to receive the best possible deal with respect to each item in their travel itinerary,” adds Ankur Arora, who is credited as the inventor. “As a result, travelers save both time and money with respect to their travel itinerary, and travel providers are provided with greater opportunities to earn and increase revenue.”
Skeptics may claim that such a system could be achieved using a standard database instead of a blockchain, similar to what standard discount travel booking agencies are presently using. Certainly, it might look pointless for all nodes to store a complete record of all itinerary requests and bids even if they become invalid.
Yet, one can argue on the improved efficiency it provides, likely creating a more competitive market for travelers and a reduction in fees charged by the operator of the system.
Together with IBM and Walmart, MasterCard has been one of the most creative investors in blockchain research.