Norwegian Air looks likely to join a growing number of companies that will accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services after the company’s co-founders said they were opening a cryptoasset exchange.
Local newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv reports that the Kjos family – headed by Bjorn Kjos (73) – has already established an exchange company called Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) which it intends to launch in August. Soon after it will expand this business into neighboring countries.
Bjorn’s son Lars Ola Kjos has already invested around NOK3.5 million ($405,600) in bitcoin, purchased mainly before November 2007. The bitcoin price hit its record of around $20,000 in December 2017.
Heading up the exchange, however, will be another family member, Bjorn’s son-in-law Stig Kjos-Mathisen. He told Dagens Naeringsliv:
NBX’s customers are given the opportunity to earn 'cash points' on trades on the stock exchange, as well as on payments made through the payment solution NBX stock for the airline.
Offering such services may help revive the fortunes of Norwegian Air. Although it has grown in its 18 years since launch in 2001 from a company with 130 employees and four aircraft to one with 11,000 staff and a fleet of 195 planes operating 500 routes, the company was hit recently by the grounding of Boeing 737 aircraft.
This, inevitably, hit earnings and in its second-quarter results, announced earlier this month, the airline reported a 72% fall in net profit.
The results prompted Bjorn Kjos to step down as chief executive of the airline, but he will remain as an advisor to the chairman.
Air Travel by Bitcoin
Norwegian Air will not be the first travel company to offer payment by bitcoin. Indeed California-based online travel agency CheapAirhas been accepting bitcoin payments since 2013.
Meanwhile, Corporate Traveller, the UK-based travel management company, said in April it was accepting bitcoin for payments in partnership with BitPay.
TravelbyBit, a Brisbane-based 2018 startup, is Australia’s answer to crypto-travel payments, and it partnered with Brisbane Airport Corporation in the same year to launch the “world’s first digital currency-friendly airport”, according to its co-founder Caleg Yeoh.