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February 22, 2019
Blockchain for instant gratification
By: Peter Yen

Accenture and Cathay Pacific Airways have enjoyed a long and fruitful business relationship based on a mutual commitment to innovation. We recently worked together on our first application of blockchain technology.

A recent joint project helped to make Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program Asia Miles—already the region’s leading travel and lifestyle rewards program—even more competitive.

As we head into 2019, Accenture is working to streamline Blockchain-as-a-Service to allow clients to subscribe to #cloud-based architecture. #blockchain @AccentureTech
 
 

Blockchain would help Asia Miles address several issues, including delays in data reconciliation and high administrative overhead. Following a successful proof of concept and an eight-week pilot, we rolled out a unique blockchain solution that could both enhance the program and address three key segments:

  • Provide Asia Miles members with a near real-time ability to manage their mile-earning experience—via a mobile app—that is more efficient (and fun, because it is based on gaming principles).

  • Eliminate merchants’ wait for data exchange and reconciliation, because blockchain gives everyone an immediate—and equally trusted—source of data.

  • Reduce costs and administrative provider tasks for data collection and payment, and proactively refresh the Asia Miles program technology.

Trust is a key element of reconciliation. The blockchain technology is best applied in a complex, multi-party transaction, when you need a trusted, transparent and unchanging system. This is particularly useful within the travel industry, which often demands seamless and fast reconciliations. Accommodating many stakeholders, and maintaining trust across the entire supply chain, is an area blockchain will continue to address.

This was a very co-creative process throughout and required courage to tackle an experimental solution. Our rapid implementation of the technology was a key factor in the success of the campaign, which was partly due to running the solution on the AWS cloud.

For example, AWS blockchain templates gave us a fast and easy way to create and deploy secure blockchain networks using popular open source frameworks. These templates helped us focus on building the blockchain application instead of spending time and energy on manual setup of the blockchain network itself.

Results have been impressive. Asia Miles members saw their earned miles credited to their accounts on the following day, compared with the following month previously. We also saw an improvement in overall operational efficiency; double-digit growth in the participation of merchants; higher customer engagement due to the gamification element—and most notably—a demonstrated innovative solution. This type of approach is now the way of working and proved very rewarding in our partnership.

What’s next?

As we head into 2019, Accenture is working to streamline Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) to allow clients to subscribe to the cloud-based architecture and have fully supported sales campaigns. It’s one way clients can stay agile in the marketplace, while upgrading their workflows.

We’re seeing the application of cloud technology more broadly from companies restructuring their IT stacks as "boundary-less" systems—including machine, consumer, partner and competitor connections—showing how to improve things like customer service and reviving how they can operate.

In case you missed it, catch our CUBE interview for more details on our Asia Miles partnership.

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