Vietnam travel startup offers to pay user data in cryptocurrency

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TOKYO – A Vietnamese travel start-up is challenging established rivals by offering customers the ability to monetize their personal data with cryptocurrency rewards using blockchain technology.

Triip, headquartered in Singapore with operations in Ho Chi Minh City, will use its own cryptocurrency, TriipMiles, to purchase information from customers about their upcoming travel plans. The customer can use the cryptocurrency to offset the cost of bookings with Triip, while the data will be sold to hotels, restaurants and other service providers who will use it to target advertising.

Ultimately, Triip hopes to create an ecosystem of suppliers who will accept the currency for their own services.

The initiative, seen as one of the first in the travel industry to pay for data with cryptocurrency, comes amid growing concerns about the exploitation and handling of user information by giants. technology companies, Facebook and Google.

“A lot of companies pay a lot of money to Google and Facebook to get your data to advertise, and they don’t give [any] over to you, ”said Hai Ho, CEO of Triip, in an interview in Tokyo. “We want to change that. If a company gives us $ 10, I keep $ 5 and give you $ 5. I think it’s fair. ”

While some features of Triip are still under development, Ho said the company’s new smartphone app has already been downloaded 50,000 times. Triip aims to reach one million downloads by the end of this year. It also offers the system to third party apps like Indonesian photo sharing app PicMix.

Triip CEO Hai Ho speaks during an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on March 13 in Tokyo (photo by Akane Okutsu)

Triip’s investors include Gobi Partners, a Chinese venture capital fund, as well as Japanese investment firm Gaiax. A Gaiax spokesperson said he believes blockchain is “important technology that supports the sharing economy.”

Ho said user information shared on Triip’s platform will be secure as it will be stored using blockchain, a technology that keeps transaction records on a tamper-proof digital ledger across a network of devices.

The new service also comes as businesses scramble for a slice of Asia’s burgeoning online travel industry. Hong Kong-based startup Klook, which runs a travel activity booking app, raised $ 200 million last year. Other players with deep pockets include Indonesia’s Traveloka, as well as global titans like Booking Holdings.

Triip is much smaller but has managed to grow by focusing on niche services. Founded in 2014, the company offers travel packages to exotic destinations like Bhutan and Seychelles worth $ 2,000 or more, mostly to wealthy Southeast Asians. Ho said the company generated $ 1.4 million in revenue last year and the business is already profitable.

Established companies as well as startups have sought to integrate blockchain technology into their services, but few have managed to successfully commercialize them. Cryptocurrency prices also failed to recover from a Bitcoin selloff last year.

Ho said interest in Triip’s service has been strong because consumers and businesses are already unhappy with existing travel experiences, such as the high currency conversion fees paid to credit card companies.


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