The question hangs over the cryptocurrency space. Can it be used for everyday purchases? A company called Fast Private Jet has part of the answer. It accepts crypto payments, but taking a private jet is hardly an everyday usage.
The company links customers with private jet operators to find a luxury ride anywhere in the world they wish to fly. The company also offers “empty leg” flights where passengers can hitch a ride on an empty private plane that is repositioning itself and its crew, which offers deeply discounted rates. Fast Private Jet also organizes international private medical flights as well as helicopter and yacht charters. As stated, hardly everyday occasions for most consumers.
In January 2020, it announced it would begin taking cryptocurrency as payment for bookings. This month, the company announced that it received the largest crypto payment in history for a single flight on a private jet. That transaction totaled over $500,000 and was part of a year that saw a big uptick in crypto payments for the company based in New York and Italy. In fact, Fast Private Jet says it processed transactions totaling over 2 million euros in 2020 alone, which helped catapult it to Tier 4 status on BitPay, the processor that handles crypto payments for the charter company. Such status effectively removes daily processing limits on a merchant, opening the door to accepting virtually unlimited cryptocurrency payments.
The Fast Private Jet success story with digital coins follows on the heels of other luxury goods and service providers embracing cryptocurrency. It’s well known now that Tesla announced that it had acquired $1.5 billion in Bitcoin last month and planned to accept the crypto coin for payments. Apple also made headlines when it announced that Apple Pay users would be able to add the crypto-backed BitPay prepaid Mastercard to their digital wallets.
And earlier this week, PYMNTS reported on The Kessler Collection, a boutique hotel group that has begun accepting cryptocurrencies in its properties to ease bookings for its international clientele.
Unlike Kessler, though, which is converting its crypto payments to U.S. dollars to minimize its risk of the notoriously volatile cryptocurrencies, Fast Private Jet CEO Maruo De Rosa is more enthusiastic about holding on to the digital coins. In fact, he told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster in a recent interview that someday he wouldn’t mind turning his entire cashflow crypto. Perhaps that’s because his decision for his company to begin accepting cryptocurrencies was first and foremost based on a feeling rather than a business need.
“The decision why we began to take it was really mixed,” he told Webster. “And it was from a gut feeling. I thought, ‘Wake up, something’s moving. I think, at the moment, we’re in the most exciting period in the last 40 years. It’s an economic revolution. We need to do something. And then we came up with this idea of accepting cryptocurrency.”
De Rosa said following that revelation, a meeting with the team at BitPay helped seal the deal. For him, business is always about people and the empathy BitPay showed him seemed like a path to success. That gut feeling has certainly paid off big based on the company’s 2020 cryptocurrency earnings.
Speaking of those earnings, even though the pandemic suppressed private jet travel, De Rosa said it did so much less than in the mainstream airline industry. He said his business is down by around 11 percentage points while the private jet industry globally took a loss of about 15 percent. Compare that to the airline industry, which lost about 65 percent of earnings and De Rosa feels OK about the industry’s position in the market.
While some businesses have shied away from accepting cryptocurrency due to its volatility and asset class tax implications, De Rosa doesn’t share the same hesitation. He said that it’s simply a matter of time before digital currencies become the way of the world, as long as the marketplace can be educated about them.
He compares the uptake of digital currencies much in the same way video communication tool Zoom took off during the pandemic. Even though it was a new tool for many, he said it was widely adopted not just by techies but also by parents and grandparents.
He said: “We can say maybe to our nephew one day ‘You know, we had this money,’ and we can tell them the history of the coin, from the Romanian Imperial to today. But again, I don’t see really any reason why today we still have money that uses the resources of the planet like paper.”