The world is a constantly progressing organism in so many ways; there’s no finer example in today’s society than the incredible rate at which the world of technology is evolving. Twenty-five years ago, the Internet was barely a twinkle in its creator’s eye. Yet, now, it’s hard to imagine taking care of the most basic tasks without reaching for our phones, heading online or relying on some kind of digital solution.
Why are we bound to such progress? Once the answer would have been, ‘because we can’, but if we’re being honest, that’s no longer an acceptable explanation. A better answer would be ‘because we can do better.’
And we can certainly do better.
What kind of better? Better for the planet. Better for our quality of life. Better for the consumer. Better for business. Better for control and ownership for individuals, organisations, and everyone in between.
How is that ‘better’ going to look as it evolves? Well, as far as the majority predictions suggest, it’s going to be the rise of Web 3.0, its incorporation of blockchain technology, and a move to faster, easier, cheaper transfers of money, data, contracts, and assets.
What’s so wrong with hospitality right now?
As with almost all business and personal transactions, the hospitality industry runs on a platform-based society. As a result, somebody else owns virtually everything you do and have online. That’s the current system we call Web 2.0.
For example, you don’t really control your ads, payments, reviews, and bookings—or even your customer relationships—they’re all managed by a third party, taking their cut wherever they can or flogging you with the ads that pay such huge dividends.
Airbnb, Booking.com, or Vrbo allow you to advertise your rentals on their sites, taking their cut at every opportunity. The reviews on their sites—or TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Foursquare—could disappear overnight if they decide you’ve broken their rules. Imagine the years of dedication and operation that have gone into building a healthy, prosperous online reputation, only to have it disappear with zero control over the outcome; businesses have broken from less.
And when it comes to payment and profit, how much are you paying in fees? To the banks? To PayPal? To the rental platforms?
Then there’s your communication. Your email sits on someone else’s servers; your website and all of its data are on someone else’s hosting.
Out of all of your digital properties and transactions, how much do you actually own and control? Sadly, it’s hardly any of it. Today’s society might be sick of hearing about ‘data’, but it’s a vital part of the process for those in business.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could control it all, safeguarding your business practice, streamlining your operations, and reducing the costs of every transaction? Well, that dream is on its way.
Say hello to Web 3.0
Just not quite yet. The predictions suggest—and strongly—that our online world will change—radically. With blockchain technology, financial transactions and data sharing will be safer, easier and controlled by the user, not the handful of Internet giants that currently control the markets. Web 3.0, hopefully, will put the power back in the hands of the people.
How? Well, as an incredibly crude overview of some very complex technologies, as everything becomes more connected, faster, smarter, and safer, users will be able to communicate with each other directly, instead of over the platforms we’re obligated to right now.
Whatever they might be at that point, our devices will be able to find what they need easier and faster, communicating not only with us but with the items we use each day.
Artificial intelligence is developing to a point where it will soon understand the meaning of what we say, understanding language instead of just blindly looking for combinations of words and phrases.
The IoT (Internet of Things)—where every device is packed with sensors—will seamlessly transmit information to this massive centralised information hub, providing users with what they need before conducting a search or asking their digital assistants to dive in on their behalf.
Put that together with the latest quantum chips, lightning fast G5 transfers, and a more connected Internet; it’s not a pipedream—it’s on its way. It all sounds very futuristic, but it’s happening; it’s just going to take a little more time until it becomes part of our next ‘new normal.’
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Web 3.0 and hospitality
What does that mean for operators in hospitality? Well, the first big change is being able to reach out directly to your guests. Your relationships will be one-to-one instead of through those mediatory platforms.
We’ve spoken about the movement blockchain will provide in iRenting as we currently know it in previous articles, yet it’s still hard to envisage how this ‘new’ Internet will open previously unconsidered gateways into how we interact and carry out transactions.
Managed using blockchain, the community platforms we’re accountable to will be replaced with the ability to keep, control, and share our own data as we see fit.
Although it might take time to embed itself in our daily routine, it’s time to prepare for what’s coming. Education and action will be the difference between those who thrive and those who stumble into the next generation with their fingers crossed that they made the leap in time.
Blockchain and hospitality
NFTs have allowed everything in the digital domain to have value. NFT is a new addition to the Internet and solely off the back of blockchain.
Non-fungible tokens have changed the world of artists, musicians, collectors, and more, and now they’re setting new ways of operation for businesses. Applying individual identification codes to cryptographic assets involves a unique and separate identity—and value—to any digital item.
Unlike cryptocurrency that maintains a specific value, each NFT has its own independent value. As a result, they can be applied to digital assets and real-world items such as property, identities, and rights.
“So what?” I hear you say, “it all sounds very complicated, but how does that help?”
Well, by ‘tokenising’ assets, they’re easier to buy, sell, and trade while reducing the possibility of fraud and theft. It puts the seller in direct contact with the buyer: the artist with the collector, the manufacturer with the user—the renter with their guest, and every service, application, contract, signature, and payment.
Disintermediated networks – cutting out the middleman
Which brings us to our next point—disintermediation.
Disintermediation is defined as ‘the reduction of the use of intermediaries between producers and consumers.’
Blockchain is about to catapult disintermediation, introducing new ways of providing trade, ownership and trust between users. It also means a massive reduction in fees collected by the middlemen who carry out these transactions on our behalf.
Sounds promising, right? I’m pretty sure everyone’s ears pricked up with the suggestion of reduced or removed fees. With such a secure system, with items and assets determined as mathematical database entries, trust is ensured instead of assumed, making those transfers not only more economical but completely safe and stress-free.
Cryptocurrency and hospitality
You can’t talk about blockchain without talking about cryptocurrency.
At the moment, crypto has one foot in business and one out. More and more organisations include them as a payment method, yet, for the time being, at least, they bring a few relatable issues to the fore.
The first, cryptocurrency is volatile. Many buyers are acquiring them as investments, so their value is constantly changing. If you’re going to accept crypto payments, you need to convert them on receipt to ensure there’s no loss in value. If you hold your payments as crypto and manage to make a little extra on the conversion when you apply it, then that’s treated as an asset and profit liable for taxation.
But that hasn’t stopped the momentum. We’re moving towards a crypto revolution. Even PayPal lets you pay with a range of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies.
Implementing cryptocurrency payment systems into your website’s payment gateway is simple, with plugins available for most popular eCommerce platforms. The takeaway of these so far is a mere 1% transaction fee. Much less than your banks charge for credit or debit payments.
As crypto payment systems become more commonplace, and as our education grows and fear of the unknown dissipates, it will become easier and cheaper to pay with Bitcoin, Etherium or any other chosen cryptocurrency.
Crypto is set to become a standard throughout all areas of the FinTech revolution; it’s really a case of when and how rather than if.
As such direct and safe payments cut out the middleman, reducing transaction fees, and making them far quicker and more secure, it’s an incredibly attractive development for merchants, especially for those moving large sums, and far safer for consumers.
UpperKey, iRenting, blockchain and cryptocurrency
As ever, UpperKey—a company at the forefront of the iRenting FinTech disruption—is moving forward with every new technology it can. For example, we’re currently developing systems that include cryptocurrency payments, hopefully accepting the most frequently used and popular currencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and more.
However, it’s not only payment gateways we’re excited about; we’re constantly working on how we can incorporate everything blockchain can bring. Following the rise of Web 3.0 and looking into new ways of implementing these tools of the future, we want to make our clients and guests experience faster, more efficient, simpler, and safer.
We’ve been pushing the industry through technology since we started, and we’re not going to stop now.