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Spanish Airline Vueling Becomes BitPay’s Latest Conquest

2 mins
Updated by Andrew Rossow
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In Brief

  • Vueling becomes first low-cost European carrier to accept crypto payments through BitPay.
  • The airline will draw on UATP's underlying technology, after UATP partnered with BitPay last year.
  • Dubai airline company Emirates is looking to offer the option of bitcoin payments for flights in the near future.
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Vueling, a member of the International Consolidated Airlines Group, signed an agreement with BitPay to allow customers to pay for flights using crypto.

Spain’s largest airline, Barcelona-based Vueling, will accept cryptocurrency payments for individuals through Atlanta-based BitPay, starting in 2023.

The Univeral Air Travel Plan (UATP), a global payment network owned by the world’s airlines, will provide the technology. BitPay partnered with UATP in September last year to allow air, rail, and agency payments in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and, more recently, Shiba Inu.

Upon launch, ticket prices will be listed in Euros, with the option to use one of 100 cryptocurrency wallets.

“With this agreement, Vueling once again reaffirms its position as a digital airline,” said Vueling’s Manager of Distribution Strategy and Alliances, Jesus Monzo.

“Vueling recognizes the [potential of cryptocurrencies to transform the airline industry, making payments faster, more secure, and less expensive on a global scale,” said BitPay’s vice-president of marketing.

Vueling is the first low-cost European airline to accept crypto. Latvia-based airBaltic was the first airline to accept crypto for payments via BitPay in 2014, while the Dubai-based Emirates announced plans earlier this year to accept payments for tickets in bitcoin to attract new customers.

E-commerce company Newegg and hotel group Kessler hotels joined forces with BitPay in 2021 to accept crypto payments.

BitPay boomed in the early days of bitcoin payments

Between 2013 and 2015, much hype surrounded many merchants “accepting” cryptocurrency for payments, including space-travel company Virgin Galactic.

However, it soon became apparent that merchants were using BitPay as a payments processor, passing on liquidity and exchange risks to the latter. This was the case last year when Magnum Real Estate in New York tapped BitPay to process payments for a three-store retail space on Manhattan’s East Side. BitPay would receive the payment in BTC on behalf of the real estate company and convert it to USD for deposit into Magnum’s account.

BitPay charges merchants a percentage fee on all transactions and added support for the Lightning Network in April to make cryptocurrency payments more mainstream and lower transaction costs. The BitPay card allows customers to spend crypto like cash with instant settlement.

BitPay’s partnership with Vueling comes when regulatory pressures are bearing down on the crypto industry. The payments processor hired Allison Raley on June 13 as chief compliance officer, following the departure of Eden Doniger in April.

Market pressure has also seen Bitcoin fall below $20,000 and Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, fall to $1,000.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...