SEPANG: Malaysia Airlines, which is rolling out new digital initiatives to enhance customer experience, is open to the possibility of accepting cryptocurrency as a payment option in the future. “We are following very closely what is happening in this area. We see it more as a payment option at the moment but it could become more. I believe there are 1,500 cryptocurrencies out there so it is quite a large number, but they are quite volatile at the moment and not really regulated,” said chief commercial officer Arved von zur Muehlen. “At the moment, we don’t see it as a payment option but soon, it could become one. If it becomes one, we will handle it as a payment option and blockchain allows us a peer-to-peer interaction with our customers. That could become something interesting,” he told reporters at a briefing on the group’s digital initiatives today. Muehlen said at the moment, cryptocurrencies do not drive its customers’ experience but once it has reached a certain level of maturity, is less volatile, becomes regulated and is accepted by customers, the group will look at ways to integrate it into its product offering. “When it becomes a viable payment option then it becomes very interesting for us. Then we will handle it as a payment channel as we handle other forms of payment. We have a lot of forms of payment. In China we allow Alipay, e-wallets, that’s something we are doing already,” he added. Today, the airline introduced three new digital initiatives namely MHguardian, MHfeedback and MHchat. MHfeedback is a mobile app that allows customers to immediately share their feedback and is already available for download. MHguardian and MHchat are both in the trial stage and will be launched in the third and second quarters respectively. The former enables parents or guardians to track unaccompanied minors during their travel with the airline while the latter is an interactive Facebook Messenger BOT where customers can make bookings, payment and retrieve flight itinerary. “Our studies show a continuous trend of mobile-first in aviation. More than half of Malaysians prefer to plan, research and book their trips via mobile,” said Muehlen. Head of digital Peter Pohlschmidt said it has a huge pipeline of ideas and expects to launch another three or four more digital initiatives this year, in addition to the three already introduced. Muehlen said the airline has stringent cost management but digital and customer products are two areas that are exempted from cost cutting. He said it has been prioritising investment in digital advancement over the past year but declined to reveal the investment cost. “Every app, service or process we have launched in the digital space, the uptake was actually quite good, I would say above our expectations. We also see that our share of online sales has increased. We see interactions have increased. We get a lot of feedback and I think it is the way forward.” He said the digital initiatives are aimed at providing customers with choices and enhancing their experience but will not replace human interaction as the digital initiatives will not replace travel agents, call centres or ticketing offices.