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CheapAir Now Accepts Bitcoin for Amtrak Railway Bookings

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on May 6, 2014 at 15:00 BST

California-based airfare and hotel booking provider CheapAir.com has announced it is now accepting bitcoin for Amtrak railway reservations completed on its platform.

The move is the latest in a broad rollout of bitcoin payments across the company's services, starting with flights in November before continuing to CheapAir's network of 200,000 hotels in February.

CheapAir added Amtrak listings to its site in April, but has only just completed the necessary back-end work to accept bitcoin payments for the travel option.

Speaking to CoinDesk, CEO Jeff Klee suggested that this measured rollout of bitcoin payments was not part of the company's strategy, though he acknowledged it has helped boost awareness of the company and its offerings within the digital currency community.

Klee said:

"Once we saw how well it did with flights, we said we should definitely add this to hotels. Amtrak was a new product, but because bitcoin had done well on flights and hotels, we thought to continue our support for bitcoin."

Notably, the move follows Spanish travel agency Destinia.com's decision to accept bitcoin for railway ticket purchases in late March.

Adding the payment option

Though CheapAir has been accepting bitcoin for some time, Klee said adding it as a payment option to its Amtrak offerings required some work.

He explained the issues the company had to account for during the process, given that its suppliers are not yet accepting the currency:

"When someone pays by bitcoin, we have to bypass that traditional process, we accept the payment, we process it and then we have to pay the suppliers in some other way."

The CEO also noted that the move was made not because of customer demand, but as a way to round out the company's service.

He stated: “We thought it would be a good idea, just because there are a lot of routes where people don't realize how viable [trains are] as an alternative or just never thought that train results would be included in a predominantly airfare site."

Steady revenue

Klee also elaborated on the success of CheapAir's other bitcoin initiatives, noting that while the platform has not seen a significant spike in bitcoin sales, revenue via this payment stream has not declined.

Klee's comments suggest that he has been paying particular attention to the lack of expansion in bitcoin sales, however:

"To be honest, initially we were pleasantly surprised by the response. It hasn't declined, but it hasn't grown that much either."

However, Klee did indicate that his company will continue to support the digital currency ecosystem. He added: "Ever since we started with bitcoin on flights, anything new we add, we're trying to include bitcoin wherever possible."

Image credit: Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com

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