Binance-backed Travala Collabs With Agoda; Can Now Use Crypto Payments at 2.2M Properties

  • Binance-backed Travala.com announces a strategic partnership with an online travel platform, Agoda, in an aim to onboard an extra 600,000 hotels despite the heavy travel bans currently in place across the globe.
  • Travelers utilizing Travala will now have access to a vast catalog of some 2.2 Million listings in 90,124 destinations globally.

Online Travel Company, Travala.com will onboard over 600,000 extra hotels to its crypto enabled platform, the company announced on their official twitter after securing the partnership with Agoda, a leading online booking firm.

Speaking on the latest partnership with Agoda, Travala.com’s CEO, Juan Otero, showed enthusiasm to start working on the journey of bringing crypto to the traveling industry. Over the past few months, the global pandemic has caused a global stigma and travel restrictions but Juan believes the partnership will connect even more people across the globe. He spoke saying,

“This strategic partnership with Agoda puts Travala.com in a league of its own. We can safely say we are the world’s largest blockchain-based online travel agency by number of accommodation options available with over 2,200,000 options to book covering 90,124 destinations.”

The Binance backed travel company extends its users with the option to remit payments for their trips via some 30 cryptocurrencies such as Binance Coin (BNB), Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Tether (USDT), Tron (TRX), and AVA.

Notably, AVA is a native token by Travala drawing a lot of similarities to the airline miles and loyalty points incentive programs by legacy booking platforms. In the month of June 2020, almost 13% of all bookings on the Travala platform were paid for via the incentive program.

Damien Pfirsch, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Agoda, the Singapore-based travel site, shares a similar growth trajectory of the partnership with Juan. Speaking on it, Damien said the new platform, Travala, will guarantee users an improved travel experience regardless of the geographical position of their trip.

Agoda brings to Travala.com several benefits including competitive rates and the wide listings of hotels to customers. He further said,

“Agoda’s technological expertise and private cloud ensure that partners enjoy best-in-class uptime connection to our supply for a smoother customer booking journey.”

Founded in 2017, Travala has placed itself strategically, forging unique alliances with leading travel firms ensuring their users a smooth travel experience all while leveraging crypto. They recently announced similar cooperation with mega travel booking platform, Expedia as well as Booking.com.

The deal with Expedia brought 700,000 hotels to Travala.com’s platform, marking its first major partnership with traditional search sites. Despite being rivals in the travel industry, the two giants collaborated in a bid to boost their market shares.

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Travel Firm Pays 414 Bitcoin worth $4.5 million to Hackers

US travel management company CWT paid 414 Bitcoin, worth $4.5 million, to hackers who stole sensitive corporate files and reportedly knocked 30,000 computers offline. Crypto exchange Binance CEO said,

“Again, not bitcoin’s fault, but as we inevitably evolve into a more digital civilization, all businesses new and old will need to revamp their security practices.”

Ransomware called Ragnar Locker which encrypts computer files to make them unusable until the victim pays for them to be restored, was used by the attackers, reported Reuters. The statement by the company that posted $1.5 billion in revenue last year, but has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic reads,

“We can confirm that after temporarily shutting down our systems as a precautionary measure, our systems are back online, and the incident has now ceased.”

CWT immediately informed US law enforcement, and European data protection authorities and the investigation is at an early stage.

Initially, the hackers demanded $10 million to delete the stolen data and restore CWT’s files, adding,

“It’s probably much cheaper than lawsuits expenses (sic), reputation loss caused by leakage.”

In its ransom note, hackers claimed to have stolen two terabytes of files, including security documents, financial reports, and employees’ personal data.

Ransomware attacks are a consistent and serious threat to businesses that costs billions of dollars each year, and the best defense against them is to keep secure data back-ups.

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Author: AnTy

Counting Down the Final Days for Crypto Exchanges and Wallets to Set in Motion FATF’s Travel Rule

  • The FATF 24th Meeting will be to analyze the adoption of the Travel rule by member states in VASPs in their jurisdictions.
  • Most of the member states are facing compliance crunches as industry expert estimates only 10% have rolled out effective steps.

The Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) members have an impending 24th June meeting. They will be scrutinizing how well the ‘travel rule’ has been discharged to the various Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP).

Travel Rule

In June 2019, the FATF updated guidelines that essentially covered the banking sector and other traditional financial systems. They extended the travel rule to now cover crypto exchanges and wallet providers amongst other VASPs. They would now be required to meet the same information exchange guidelines as other financial institutions when ownership of the virtual assets changed.

The travel rule was formulated to counter AML and CTF practices. It obligates financial institutions to improve their KYC protocols by ensuring collection and information sharing by requesting names, possible addresses, and account numbers to establish the parties involved in the respective transactions. This would create an audit trail, hence cracking down on criminal fronts leveraging the Virtual Assets infrastructure.

Shortly after presenting the new amendments to the travel rule, the FATF gave their member countries a year to enforce the VASPs in their jurisdictions. They would then hold a meeting to analyze steps and measures taken to align with the new standards. Although the guidelines might not be binding, the organization has warned that members not conforming with the standards might be kicked out of the body.

Countries Grappling With Compliance

CoolBitX CEO Michael Ou has offered insight into how various countries were fairing so far in the adoption of the new guidelines. Remarking that with close to two hundred member states, only 20 of them had tweaked their regulations to include the new travel rule amendments.

The remainder of the nations were on course with implementation but not fully there yet. His company is working with regulators to develop tech that will bolster compliance with the Travel Rule. They recently released their version of a solution dubbed Sygna Bridge to solve compliance woes.

He anticipates that the meeting will help the VASPs set actual deadlines for compliance with FATF standards. However, other analysts in the industry don’t share the same opinion. Siân Jones XReg Consulting expects that it would take considerably longer before all the member states achieve full compliance.

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Author: Lujan Odera

South Korean Unicorn Traveling Agency Yanolja to Offer Crypto Rewards With MiL.k Partnership

South Korean travel company Yanolja, hit Unicorn status back in mid-2019 after a $180M funding round valued at $1 billion, has integrated a blockchain platform so that their rewards tokens can be exchanged for cryptocurrency.

The blockchain rewards platform with which Yanolja closed the partnership is MiL.k. The deal is for MiL.k to enable the non-crypto rewards currency Yanolja Coin to be exchanged with the Milk Coin (MLK), which is accepted for trading on crypto exchanges.

MLK Can Also Be Redeemed at Other Vendors

The good news is that the MLK can be redeemed at other vendors having the MiL.k crypto rewards platform integrated. These vendors are South Korea’s most popular car-sharing service, Delivery Car, and Seoul’s airport bus service, Seoul Airport Limousine. This means the rewards earned while riding the airport limousine can also be redeemed at other companies, turned into crypto, and sold on exchanges.

Mutual Credibility

The head of international business at Milk Partners and Keyinside, Samuel Yun, said that mutual credibility is the rewards system’s benefit, seeing reward programs contain important information about a company, information on sales included.

He added that the MiL.k platform has all its transactions written on ledgers, also encrypted on the blockchain, which means companies don’t need to worry about their data being leaked.

Discounts to Be Offered

The rewards schemes of MiL.k tokens include all sorts of discounts too. Yun said that buying $9 worth of MLK can bring a purchasing power valued at $10, with the percentages increasing according to what MiL.k is offering at any given time. MLK’s value is pegged to the one of a fiat currency, so the won for South Korea. Buying MLK when the time is right can bring bigger rewards. Here are Yun’s exact words on this:

“If you choose to hold MLK for future value and use it later for bigger points, you can certainly do so.”

Those who bought MLK in February lost most of their discounts. When launched, MLK had a value of $1.51, but now its price went down to $0.22, says the metrics site CoinGecko.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Travala Expands Its Crypto Payments Options By Adding NEM’s XEM Token

Travel platform Travala, a firm that allows its customers to pay for hotel accommodations using digital currencies, has partnered with the NEM Foundation to support XEM token payments.

In a blog post, Travala and NEM Foundation announced that XEM has been integrated as a payment option on Travala’s platform. In this regard, XEM is now part of more than 20 other virtual currencies which are presented as payment options by Travala which comprise of:

Following the agreement, XEM holders can now enjoy up to 40% discounts for more than 2 million accommodations locations around the world. NEM CEO, Alex Tinsman expressed his gratitude saying that the travel platform has been essential in supporting the crypto industry and plays a vital role in enhancing the mass adoption of cryptos.

He added that the addition of the XEM payment option is a testament to the firm’s commitment to scaling the use of the token in various firms across all industries. Travala CEO, Matt Luczynski, welcomed XEM holders saying that his firm will ensure they get the best services.

The new developments come just days after the firm announced it had begun accepting USDT as a payment option for its over 2 million destinations.

The firm has been aggressive in providing crypto-based payment solutions. In November last year, the firm partnered with Bookings.com to enable its clients to book more than 90,000 divergent destinations via cryptocurrencies. The firm announced that its December revenues had increased by 33.5% following the partnership. About 28% of the December revenues were made through Bitcoin.

A spokesperson at the online travel firm said BTC is the most used virtual currency on Travala, accounting for more than 60% of all the crypto payments revenues.

The use of crypto in the tourism sector has not only been confined to bookings only. Late last month, Thailand announced that it will use blockchain for its digital visa application procedures to speed up the process and soon will be available to international visitors. Similarly, Alternative Airlines, a UK-based travel firm, has inked a deal with Utrust to allow payments using crypto.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

New Wirex Visa Travelcard To Reward Users With 1.5% in Bitcoins on All In-Store Purchases

Crypto and fiat multi-currency accounts provider, Wirex has officially launched its travel Visa card as of Monday, November 11, 2019. Considering the fact that the firm focuses on establishing connections around the world with its services, the new travelcard will first be made present in the Asia-Pacific region, namely, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korean, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines.

As per the press release, the travelcard is compatible with over 150 distinct cryptocurrencies and allows users to connect multiple fiat currencies. Together, these features are expected to help customers avoid unwanted expenses that typically arise from traveling (i.e. money exchange).

In addition to helping customers use money wisely, the firm has created a Cryptoback program, where customers who make in-store purchases will be given the opportunity to earn 1.5% in Bitcoin.

CEO and Co-Founder of Wirex, Paul Matveev expressed delight in being able to provide such an experience for his customers, adding that it is a great way to let them have full control over their money for whatever travel reasons.

He further noted that:

“We have witnessed an explosion in demand for hybrid fiat and cryptocurrency-enabled banking alternatives in APAC, where people need payments redesigned for the future.” He went on expound on the firm’s offerings, which he deems are, “More than just the next stage in the platform’s growth strategy; it is a tangle example of our mission to provide a genuine alternative to conventional financial services.”

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Author: Nirmala Velupillai

Webjet Debuts New Hotel Booking Verification Blockchain based on Microsoft Azure

Webjet, a leading digital travel agent is excited to launch its blockchain platform with an objective of eliminating the existing disparities in hostel booking processes and data. The new project, Rezchain, is an application that will help address overcharges and reservation snafus in hotel booking by tracing data mismatches between booking agents, hostels and customers.

According to the company, such errors occur in about 5% of all hotel bookings. The application will send alerts to the interested parties if any are found. Such errors cause many firms to suffer financial resource losses. Besides the financial exposures, the reconciliation process is painful and time-consuming.

Webjet was launched two decades ago in 1998 as an online travel agent company operating in North America, Southeast Asia and Australia. The company has a project called WebBeds that offers a Business-to-business accommodation online platform.

“Mistakes should be expected from multiple IT systems that speak different languages. Writing off debts remains as the last resort whenever the situation is not clear. That has been a cost of doing business for decades, but the industry does not have to suffer from that anymore,”

said John Guscic, the managing director at Webjet.

Webjet believes it will leverage blockchain technology distributed nature by employing early warning systems via Email and a “virtual handshake”. Rezchain will store information in a shared ledger which will give all parties interested in online booking access to timely information. The application has been built on what we can refer to as a private version of Ethereum.

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Author: Denis Miriti