Cathay Pacific launch blockchain-powered rewards app with Accenture

23 May 2018 4 min. read

Cathay Pacific has become the latest big name airline to enter the cryptosphere, with the company adopting blockchain technology for a new rewards campaign in collaboration with digital consulting leaders Accenture.

Developed by Accenture, Cathay Pacific’s new blockchain-powered mobile app will streamline the airline’s Unlock More Miles dining promotion campaign in its home-base of Hong Kong, offering easier reward-points management for the some 10 million members of its Air Miles loyalty programme – as well as for participating partners, which total more 700 plus worldwide.

With the new technology, members dining on dim sums or one of Hong Kong’s other culinary delights at a partner restaurant will have reward miles credited to their accounts within the day, allowing closer to real-time tracking, while partners of the programme will be availed of a joint-access data-source, improving efficiency and back-room administrative costs through the automation of data management along with providing overall greater transparency on transactions.

“Cathay Pacific is committed to benefiting customers through innovation and technology. We are pleased to partner with Accenture and we will continue to leverage its technology to develop more applications that our customers value,” Lawrence Fong, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of IT Solutions said, “As a start, we are very excited by the first offering resulting from our co-operation – the marketing campaign launched by Asia Miles which we expect to be well received.”Cathay Pacific launch blockchain-powered dining rewards app with AccentureFurther to a smoother data flow and quicker rewards for members, the airline hopes the new mobile app will enhance customer engagement through incorporated gamification features – such as with its ‘gastronomic mission’ to unlock 45,000 bonus miles points through three dining challenges. Customer experience has been an areas of focus for Cathay Pacific following a period of decline, which saw the company post back-to-back losses this year for the first time in the its history.

Putting its recent struggles in part down to intense competition from low cost-carriers, the decline in profits comes at a time when the Asian aviation industry is seriously heating up, with consultancy Oliver Wyman projecting revenues-per-passenger to grow 5.7% annually across the region over the next 20 years, and with many emerging aviation hubs, including Vietnam, moving to boost capacity with airport developments and upgrades.

The deteriorating situation last year saw the troubled airline call in strategy and management giants McKinsey & Company for a turnaround mission, with Cathay’s Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer, Greg Hughes, stating that more than 740 initiatives had been identified to cut costs, increase productivity and improve customer service. Announcements have followed on improving in-flight dining quality and its premium lounges, as well as, most recently, deploying Red Hat open-stack solutions to update infrastructure to a hybrid cloud architecture and improve end-user experience on customer-facing platforms.

“We wanted to invest in technologies that would drive what matters most to our customers: their end-to-end experience with Cathay Pacific,” Cathay Pacific’s general manager of IT infrastructure and operations, Kerry Peirse, said. “Red Hat solutions have enabled us to deliver value to our customers much faster, with improved performance and stability.” 

Digital Aviation

The airline has also reportedly engaged with the tech-firm’s consulting arm, Red Hat Consulting, to identify business-drivers and enhanced customer service potential through technological implementations. “Globally, the airline industry is one of the most competitive and customer focused industries, making the customer experience extremely important as a marketable differentiator,” Red Hat’s senior vice president of engineering, Matt Hicks, said.

In adopting blockchain technology for its loyalty rewards programme, Cathay Pacific follows similar announcements in recent months from regional competitors Air Asia and Singapore Airlines, the latter in partnership with Microsoft and KPMG. Peter Yen, a managing director with Accenture, said of the Cathay Pacific rollout; “Blockchain is helping industries across the globe to transform their workflows, making complicated business processes run more smoothly and efficiently, including enabling quick and seamless transaction settlements.”

In addition to Asia’s aviation sector, competition in the local blockchain industry is also heating up, with an increasing number of consulting firms and digital service providers jumping on board. The Big Four firm PwC recently picked up a stake in blockchain specialist VeChain, following its Hong Kong branch’s first acceptance of bitcoin for advisory services late last year, while global strategy firm Roland Berger has joined a Singapore-based blockchain alliance to promote greater commercial adoption.