In November 2013 CheapAir became the first airline to accept Bitcoin. Later, it was also the first to allow travelers the use of digital currency to book hotel rooms and Amtrak train seats.
Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, tells Forbes.com that its Bitcoin sales have topped $1.5 million after that. He added that the amount had exceeded the company’s initial expectations.
CheapAir had some impressive companions. Bitcoin had edged its way into mainstream commerce for the past twelve months that prompted companies like Dell , Overstock, Expedia EXPE -3.4% and Dish Network to start accepting the currency. Dish had just processed its first Bitcoin payment last month when Austin and Beccy Craig, stars of a new documentary film “Life on Bitcoin” paid their monthly cable bill with Bitcoin.
In the meantime, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal last month, eBay may soon join that list. Sources told the Journal that eBay, has been quiet in trying to integrate the virtual currency into its Braintree payments subsidiary.
CheapAir had forged ahead of these companies to move into new territory. For a mainstream brand, it had begun accepting payments in Litecoin and Dogecoin. It will process the payments via GoCoin.
Likewise, it had launched a dedicated e-support line staffed by CheapAir Travel Advisors. This is geared for digital currency travel advice and questions.
Like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin are peer-to-peer, open source cryptocurrencies. According to CoinMarketCap, a website that tracks digital currencies, Litecoin is the closest challenger to Bitcoin. This is based on its market cap and price ($154,407,677 and $ 4.87 respectively.) At no.7 on the list is Dogecoin with a market cap of $ 13,055,906 and a price per unit of $ 0.000143.
CheapAir’s Klee says that after receiving requests from developers, the company had decided to expand the array of digital currencies that it supports. Although unsure of their momentum with their smaller user base, Klee is willing to take a flyer with them.
Klee, like many company executives, takes delight with the cost savings these digital currencies offer companies like CheapAir, saying he is “supportive of alternative currencies [given the fact that] the technology is very promising.”
He added that “big banks have such a stranglehold on commerce with their 3% per transaction fees. They need some competition and digital currencies are best suited to provide it.”
CheapAir has confirmed that it is now installing Dogecoin and Litecoin payment options. The Calabasas, California-based travel company says it’s hoping to bring in more clientele from both the Dogecoin and Litecoin communities.
CEO Jeff Klee has more to say: “We try to make travel as easy as possible for customers, and letting people pay the way they want to pay is a big part of that. Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin represent promising technologies that can make transacting online faster, easier, less expensive, and more secure. We admire cryptocurrency early adopters and we’re thrilled to support them.”
BTCTrip, CheapAir competitor, had already begun accepting the two peer-to-peer decentralized digital currencies. One of the biggest companies to implement Bitcoin, Expedia looked like it is sticking with the one digital currency, although it may expand Bitcoin acceptance to additional services.
In the cryptocurrency community, some are surprised that Dogecoin is still being used by retailers and websites. Amagi Metals, one of the biggest online metals dealers once took the headlines before when it announced its plan to drop the U.S. dollar in favor of Bitcoin. Last month, Amagi announced it would be ending all Dogecoin payment services citing a loss of credibility.
Whole Foods and Bitcoin
Are you a Bitcoin user who is also an all natural and organic food aficionado? If so, you might be an avid shopper at Whole Foods Market. With your Bitcoin, you can now purchase items from the food retailer, though not directly.
EGifter announced Tuesday anyone can buy gift cards (from $5 to $500) for any in-store purchases at Whole Foods Market. These electronic gift cards can be purchased with any payment method, which includes Bitcoin.
eGifter also owns a long list of gift cards for various establishments that includes The Home Depot, Domino’s Pizza, Cracker Barrel, IHOP and Morton’s The Steakhouse. Is there a chance Whole Foods Market will actually accept Bitcoin? It will be a major headline once it does.