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Airbnb plays blockchain buzz-word bingo in $1B IPO filing with SEC

Short-term accommodation booking platform Airbnb has filed a prospectus for a $1 billion initial public offering, or IPO, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 16.

Hidden away in the 350+ page document is a half page dedicated to the risks of not being able to adapt to changes in technology. The document reels off a list of buzz-words that savvy investors may want to be sure are under consideration:

“Our future success will also depend on our ability to adapt to emerging technologies such as tokenization, cryptocurrencies, new authentication technologies, such as biometrics, distributed ledger and blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and cloud technologies.”

The very next paragraph goes on to explain that the “ability to integrate new or emerging payment methods” is a critical component of future success. However, the only methods listed are Alipay, Paytm and WeChat pay.

While these systems are clearly important, especially in offering access to the unbanked, it does beg the question as to what Airbnb sees as the role of cryptocurrency in its future business model, other than attracting investors.

As Cointelegraph reported a year ago, it used to be possible to use Bitcoin (BTC) to book accommodation on Airbnb through the purchase of $25 and $100 gift-cards on the Fold app. However, Airbnb is no longer among the cards listed for sale on the platform.

Meanwhile, blockchain firms have been actively using the technology to revive a travel industry that has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apps have been launched to verify travelers’ health status, the cleanliness of surfaces in a New York airport, and blockchain tech has been used in some contact tracing apps in order to preserve user privacy. Even U.S. passport applications in California can now be paid for in Bitcoin.

Whether Airbnb’s proclamations of the importance of crypto and blockchain adoption turn out to be anything more than lip-service remains to be seen.

 

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