AirBaltic has become the world’s first airline to accept Bitcoin as payment for some of its tickets. The company is Latvia’s national airline. It is now possible for people to use Bitcoin to buy an airline ticket to 60 destinations in Europe, Middle East, Russia, and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).
Those who want to use Bitcoin to pay for their airline tickets must make their purchase through the airBaltic website. The prices on their website are listed in Euros. When a customer uses Bitcoin as payment, the Bitcoins are automatically converted into Euros at whatever the current exchange rate happens to be.
There are some limitations. The Bitcoin payment option is only available when a person purchases the cheapest tickets. Those tickets are called airBaltic Basic Class.
The airBaltic fleet of planes consists of 25 aircraft. It includes 5 Boeing 737-500, 8 Boeing 737-300, and 12 Bombardier Q400Next planes. The Latvian state is the primary shareholder in airBaltic, with 99.8% of stock. I’ve never heard of this airline before. It appears that, if nothing else, being the first airline to accept Bitcoin as payment is resulting in quite a bit of publicity for airBaltic!
The Parliament of Canada has approved the world’s first national Bitcoin law. It is the first official law that concerns the treatment of Bitcoin financial transactions under national anti-money laundering law.
Bill C-31 was an amendment to Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). In other words, the bill amended, or made a change to, an existing Canadian anti-money laundering law. Here are some key points of the law:
Regulates Bitcoin as an MSB (money services business): “Bitcoin dealing, more specifically referred to as ‘dealing in virtual currencies’ in Bill C-31, will be subject to the record keeping, verification procedures, suspicious transaction reporting and registration requirements under the PCMLTFA as a money services business.”
Does not define “dealing in virtual currencies”: “The phrase ‘dealing in virtual currencies’ was left undefined and it is not known what the defined term will encompass in terms of business activities once defined by regulation.”
Registration with FINTRAC (the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada): “Bitcoin dealers will be required to register with FINTRAC and if successfully registered, to implement a complete anti-money laundering compliance regime.”
Captures foreign Bitcoin companies targeting Canada: In short, the bill extends to entities that have a place of business in Canada and also to entities that have a place of business outside Canada (but who direct services at persons in Canada).
Prohibits banks from opening accounts for Bitcoin entities if unregistered: “Under Bill C-31, banks will be prohibited from opening and maintaining correspondent banking relationships with Bitcoin dealers that are not registered with FINTRAC.”
Another key point to understand is that Canada’s Governor General gave Royal Assent to Bill C-31. Under Canadian law, that on it’s own does not necessarily mean that the bill instantaneously goes into force. Certain parts of the bill come in force on dates that were set in the bill. Other portions will come in force on a date determined by the Governor General.