Booking Token Unit (BTU Protocol) is an open-source blockchain-based decentralised protocol for booking travel. As with many blockchain projects, it is designed to help the little guys and take the power away from the monopolies.
Sensing the chance to learn about redistributing the balance of power first-hand, I caught up with president Hervé Hababou and MD Vidal Chriqui to learn more about the product:
The problem BTU Protocol is trying to solve
The BTU decentralised platform and open protocol is aimed at removing the middle man and taking the the power away from the bigger players in the industry – in the case of the travel industry, it is travel booking platforms and OTAs.
“Every time you make a booking, the hotel loses out”
“As has been in seen in many other markets including restaurant bookings and medical appointments, BTU aims to address the imbalance of power in travel reservations,” the BTU teams tells me. “There are strong monopolies on internet platform – for example Expedia and Booking.com.
“Every time you make a booking, the hotel loses out – so we are letting hoteliers say ‘Please do not use booking platform – just come to me’. It’s a big opportunity to use this tech to break monopolies in the industry – our protocol is about giving all the inventory back to the hotels,” Hababou explains.
This makes a lot of sense, given that there is a huge movement towards ‘direct booking’ at the moment, with hoteliers trying to encourage guests to book through the hotel’s own website and avoid huge losses through commissions. It seems that BTU might be an ‘indirect direct booking system’.
So how does this new tech manifest itself? I ask them how the layman would be able to take advantage of this and how they would implement it.
“Think of it as ‘disruption kit’ so that every player can enter this market,” Chriqui continues. The team tells that it’s as easy for a broker to embed a booking engine as a blogger might embed a video. “Instead of Booking.com, sellers can connect to us where the inventory is free.
They tell me that the aim is to readdress the equilibrium – and help people earn money along the way. The token acts as “collateral or a guarantee, as well as a way to pay an affiliate commission.”
“It’s not BTU that built the system; we are not building a product – this is a SAAS (software as a service) and we are not selling it; we are giving it away for free,” Hababou confirms.
“Anyone can embed and start monetising straight away.”
“What is important is that we have good token economics – more users means more value,” they continue. They highlight the benefit of the speed of signing up to the product and the resulting uptake of users which help to attain a critical mass: “Anyone can embed and start monetising straight away.”
The token itself
The Booking Token Unit uses a smart contract-based system built on the ERC-20 token known as the BTU Token. In fact, Chriqui actually invented the ERC-808 token, which is built on the ERC-20 Ethereum token, specifically for the project. The platform’s reservation process was then founded upon the corresponding ledger.
“It’s a very innovative concept; I’ve been in industry in 25 years and not seen anything similar,” Chriqui boasts, “It’s very original.”
They explain that they will not make money from software but will simply push the use of the token by bringing new players into the industry, then aim to bring them value. Chriqui and Hababou explain that, for them, the benefit of two parts of the system – not just the token but the equity for users – is the key to success.
“We are not a currency – we are a digital asset”
“We are a new type of company in terms of business model. All the value goes inside the token, which is unlike Ethereum, because the token itself has value,” Chriqui continues. “We are not about money we are a token; we are not a currency – we are a digital asset.”
Competition – or not
If Chriqui thinks the product is unique, it’s fair to assume he is right. He has an unparalleled experience in data and distribution systems and was there right at the start, in the early days of Bitcoin and then Ethereum.
“Bitcoin is fascinating for me as an engineer,” he says. He explains that, in his time as an ICO advisor and speaker at conferences about blockchain and crypto, he has not seen a product with the opportunity that BTU does.
Connected to this, Chriqui explains that he relates to blockchain on an almost emotional level, agreeing with the idea that a computer system should decentralise power – especially in the world of global finance which is dominated by a few extremely powerful companies. They are so serious about breaking these monopolies that they have worked with French General Assembly.
“Most financial schemes are designed with the sole idea of capturing value,” the team concludes, “But we are here to create a community around the world.”
The BTU protocol ICO has begun and the presale is open. The hard cap is 20 million euro and the token sale ends on 13 June. The funds raised will go towards the next major releases of the product, with more scalability and integrations such as WordPress and enterprise versions of the software.
While speaking about the product releases, I ask them team why the milestones on the roadmap are named after planets. They reply that the names not only memorable but has meaning: “We are big fans of astronomy and we want to go very far!”