Two friends in a shared flat in San Francisco, high rental prices and a conference that takes up all the hotel rooms. It was obvious: in order to earn money for the rent, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia offered three people an air mattress and breakfast in their apartment. After the foundation of “Air Bed and Breakfast” in 2007, it became Airbnb two years later. The offer of Airbnb expanded from individual rooms to entire apartments and houses. Almost a decade later, people had set foot in an Airbnb accommodation about 300 million times.
And then came the pandemic. ”At the end of January, we realized that our China business had declined by 80 percent in a matter of weeks,“ Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, recalled in the podcast decoder of ”The Verge”.
The travel industry in particular has been hit hard by the corona pandemic – and is still bleeding. However, after dramatic headlines around the existence of the platform at the beginning of the pandemic, the company was able to pick itself up again.
However, Chesky not only predicts that the globetrotting industry will recover
but also the advent of completely new travel habits that could change the industry from the ground up. “The world is experiencing a revolution in the way we live and work. The pandemic has suddenly freed millions of people from the need to go to an office, ” the CEO explained in the call to announce the Q3 results.
Go on holiday with Satoshis
Equipped with an internet connection, we can move our office to any location, regardless of all national borders. Whether this is in a small wooden hut in the Swiss Alps or even in the Royal City Palace Jaipur, which can be booked via Airbnb, does not matter much. All these changes had to be taken into account within Airbnb and new structures had to be created in order not to fall by the wayside.
The accommodation platform was no longer just a means for booking holidays, but rather part of the new everyday working life. To respond to the revolution in the travel, work and housing sector, the CEO wanted to know on Twitter what his followers would like for the company “if Airbnb could launch something in 2022”.
Of a total of 4,000 responses, the top proposal was to integrate payments with cryptocurrencies into the platform. At the same time, the Airbnb founder clarified that cryptocurrencies mean a variety of token ideas. So are there several different cryptocurrencies in the room at once?
This idea is not entirely foreign to the company. Even before the IPO, Airbnb allowed a small glimpse into the possible future. The IPO application to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states that the future success of the platform will depend, among other things, on the ability to adapt to new 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”.
Against this background, it seems inappropriate to label the crypto integration at Airbnb as a Twitter gag. Rather, the company had been targeting decentralized technologies for a long time. Chesky also revealed to The Verge that the company is definitely investigating the issue. “Like the revolution in travel, a revolution is also taking place in the crypto economy,” the CEO said.
Payments on Airbnb
Airbnb told BTC-ECHO that the company is reviewing ”a number of updates” for the service. “Airbnb Payments is a unique benefit for Airbnb that is fundamental to our guests’ and hosts’ trust in our business and growth, and we have processed $336 billion in payments since 2013,” the platform said. Airbnb has a customized, integrated payment system that allows payments between hosts and guests in over 40 currencies. The payment system tailored to Airbnb and the associated flexibility make future updates and the development of new processes quite easy. Considering that currently about 93 percent of Airbnb hosts are paid in their local currency, the integration seems to
cryptocurrencies are obvious.
As tokens that can be sent across national borders, crypto payments would make the conversion of individual currencies obsolete for international bookings. When asked whether the planned “updates” are really about the integration of options for payments with cryptocurrencies, Airbnb did not disclose any information and declined to comment further on the topic.
Overall, Airbnb seems to be intensively dealing with the topic of cryptocurrencies. What exactly we can expect from the company can only be guessed at the moment. However, one thing is for sure: Chesky is aware of the importance in terms of crypto. However, his interest does not (yet) seem to reach into the metaverse.
Airbnb in the Metaverse?
The reports of people spending thousands and thousands of US dollars on virtual plots, villas or luxury yachts in Decentraland, Axie Infinity or other Metaverse platforms are piling up. Travel restrictions imposed by certain countries and regions due to the corona pandemic are also certainly playing their part. Actually ideal conditions for an advance of Airbnb into the metaverse, one might think.
However, the CEO is holding back with his enthusiasm, it seems. In an interview with Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift, Chesky explained that the digital revolution is a big risk. “We live in one of the loneliest times in human history,” the Airbnb CEO said.
However, if you take physical communities and “atomize” them, i.e. digitize them, they would lose a lot of their “nutritiousness”, according to Chesky. That doesn’t sound like VR enthusiasm. The Airbnb CEO also has an opinion on Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the Metaverse. According to this, he believes that the Internet would definitely become more “immersive”, but he questions whether it can replace our real life or just the two-dimensional network.
The basic idea of Airbnb goes back to the human community in the physical world. ”This idea of human connection and the risk that the world is isolated, lonely and divided – if Airbnb has a right to exist (…), then it is the ability to bring people from all cultures of the world together in the physical world,” Chesky explained in decoder. “This will always be relevant as long as people are relevant in this world.”