Can travel be revolutionized with blockchain technology?

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Twenty-five or 30 years ago, traveling from one end of Germany to the other meant paper tickets and separate fares. For example, you had to buy one ticket for the train at the station, then a metro ticket to ride the U-Bahn subway in the city and finally you had to pay the fare to ride the bus to your final destination. We would never think of doing all that work or even imagine purchasing paper tickets now.

Today, we live in a digital world where most people complete their travel plans online. So why is it that travelers still don’t have a seamless, single digital ticket-buying experience across multiple modes of transportation?

Overcoming an outdated business model

Despite advances in digital ticketing, if someone is using multiple companies to get to their destination, they still must use separate websites to reserve travel, or book through a travel agent. Until now, we haven’t really altered our business model to keep up with the way people want to travel. Travelers want a ticket-booking solution that integrates long-distance, regional and local transportation, including Uber and other car-sharing solutions.

At DB Systel, the IT provider for Deutsche Bahn (DB), we want to overcome two critical problems with the current business model in the travel and mobility industry. First, customers can’t get that seamless travel experience – booking with one company while being able to travel on multiple modes of transport with different companies. Second, from the perspective of service providers, tasks such as allocating revenues, which are already complex, become even more onerous in the event of a missed connection.

Introducing blockchain for transparency and accountability

Blockchain will play a key role in transforming the mobility industry. For those who aren’t familiar with blockchain, it provides accuracy, accountability and transparency for digital transactions. It works behind the scenes to record those transactions on a distributed ledger used by multiple entities across a value chain. We decided to work with IBM Blockchain technology to create our own blockchain platform for the mobility industry. With our solution, participating mobility companies participate in the blockchain to record travel purchases and to help ensure accurate payments.

When travelers book their transportation with companies participating in our blockchain, they can book all their tickets with just a few mouse clicks on a single website. They don’t need to log into and purchase tickets from multiple sites and providers. The blockchain ledger records the single customer purchase, and accurately splits the payment among the providers.

Revolutionizing travel and mobility

We think using blockchain could revolutionize the entire travel industry. It offers a way for mobility companies to offer end-to-end travel, not just in Germany or Europe, but worldwide. The customer can book one ticket and fly, cruise, ride or drive wherever they are going without thinking about who’s providing the transportation or how and when to pay them.

This is a huge opportunity for DB Systel to offer our customers a bigger, all-encompassing travel experience. Using the IBM Blockchain will make it easier to interact with our partners and with other mobility providers along the whole travel value chain. A wider variety of companies will want to participate in our consortium because they know that every booking and payment transaction is recorded accurately, ensuring they get paid.

As a traveler, just imagine having one digital profile that you can use to book any trip, on any kind of transportation, anywhere in the world. That’s our vision at DB Systel, and we’re on track to realizing it.


Hear how DB Systel is creating a seamless travel experience with IBM Blockchain:


Portfolio Manager for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), DB Systel GmbH

Moritz von Bonin

Product Owner Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Solutions, DB Systel GmbH

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