Mastercard has won a patent for a blockchain system that would let travelers submit preferred itineraries and merchants to forward bids for each service request.
The patent, granted to Mastercard by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 7, seeks to update the global travel industry by linking travelers to a wider array of hotels, airlines, and other service providers than most currently do prior to booking their schedules even when making use of services such as Priceline, Kayak, and Hotels.com.
The patent read: “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.”
Under the proposal, travelers could submit specified data about their itineraries, which would then be included in a block and conveyed across the blockchain to all network-connected nodes. Merchants could then forward bids for reservation requests, which would be assessed by a processing server and returned 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,” said 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 argue that such a system could be attained using a standard database rather than a blockchain, much like standard discount travel booking agencies already use. Indeed, it would seem redundant for all nodes to keep a comprehensive record of all itinerary requests and bids, even after they are no longer valid.
However, one could perhaps imagine some increases in efficiency, perhaps transforming to a more competitive market for travelers and a reduction in fees charged by the operator of the system.
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