In an interview with a norwegian newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv (DN), Stig Kjos-Mathisen talks about Norwegian airlines plans to allow regular consumers to pay with cryptocurrencies.
Over the past two years, the Norwegian Block Exchange have developing an infrastructure for both trading and payment with crypto. The company – which borrows the name of the airline – has from the start been owned by the Kjos family, and as of last year, a bank called Sparebanken Øst also entered the ownership side.
The first beta users were introduced last fall to the company’s new exchange. At some point this year, they will also allow for the purchase and sale of Norwegian tickets with cryptocurrency for customers.
“Everything is ready to go from our side”, says Stig Kjos-Mathisen in the interview.
“That was my idea,”
Stig Kjos-Mathisen is Bjørn Kjos’ son-in-law, who is the owner of Norwegian Airlines. Stig is married to Anna Helene Kjos-Mathisen (36), who for many years has been a pilot and worked with crew planning in the airline. Stig has also worked in the airline, before the family saw a new business opportunity in new payment solutions.
“That was my idea,” Bjørn Kjos said at the time about the plans to invest in blockchain and cryptocurrency, he says in the interview.
Kjos-Mathisen has been CEO of the Norwegian Block Exchange since its inception, and has a lot of technological insight. He talks eagerly about how cryptocurrency can fundamentally change how people pay, and that Norway can be far ahead.
”Shops and businesses like us, are the ones who want to introduce cryptocurrency payments. We are the ones who pay large transaction costs to the card companies”, says Kjos-Mathisen.
He talks about future ambitions for the company, “in the beginning we felt that this should be built for the airline, and that solution is clear. But the opportunities are so much greater than that”, he says, and continues:
“By building on our technology, we can do much of what banks do with payments today, only cheaper and better for merchants and customers.”
First to the races
Norwegian may be the first major airline ready to let customers pay cryptocurrency tickets.
If everything goes according to plan, the technology may be launched on Norwegian’s websites some time this spring.
“We are working on a solution, but have nothing specific to announce now about launch”, says Norwegian Information Director Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen.
Norwegian Block Exchange expects more online stores to be connected during 2020.
Financial problems at Norwegian over the past two years have created a special money gap, because players who transfer money between the credit card companies and the stores – so-called acquirers – have withheld money towards departure.
It is unknown how much money is being withheld – thus affecting Norwegians’ liquidity. But the company’s claims have increased by NOK 3 billion to one year, and an important explanation is that a billion is withheld.
“This Can Be Big”
Kjos-Mathisen gave a lecture at a Finance Norway seminar in Oslo, and used an airline as an example.
The airlines pay between 1.5 and 2.5% of the fare in credit card companies – and customers often have to pay that cost themselves.
Tickets are paid on average 30 to 60 days before departure, and if the money is withheld, companies must pay for alternative financing.
“Both of these costs get disappear with cryptocurrency”, says Kjos-Mathisen.
How will the customer start using it?
“If it becomes cheaper for merchants, and easier and faster for customers than regular payments, this can be huge. It is impossible to predict how big, but we must be a serious player who is out early,” says Kjos-Mathisen.