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Should we expect an Airbnb token?

Photo of: Joseph Stone
by Joseph Stone

The event of this end of year in terms of IPO (Initial Public Offering), will undoubtedly be the Airbnb IPO in December. The housing rental platform, launched in 2008, no longer had much choice, after an aborted IPO attempt in 2019 and an emergency raising of 2 billion dollars in April. It would seek to raise $3 billion during this IPO.

In the recently published prospectus, Airbnb announced its ability to withstand the pandemic, with a turnover that is now down “only” by 32% over the year and a net profit of 307 million in the 3rd quarter, after a loss of 1 billion in the 1st half of the year!

To achieve this recovery, the company, which has never been able to publish an annual profit, had to lay off a quarter of its employees and focus on its core business: rental between private individuals. It is therefore no longer a question of diversifying in the short term by targeting the transport or hotel sector, as had been discussed.

In its 2017 financing round, investors, including Jeff Bezos, injected $1 billion in new shares, valuing the company at $31 billion. However, losses of $674 million in 2019, and then this year’s estimated $700 million (over 9 months), as well as declining revenues and poor industry prospects, now value Airbnb at only $18 billion!

In addition, according to the prospectus filed with the SEC, the US company stated that: “the future success of the company will depend on its ability to adapt to new technologies such as tokens, cryptocurrencies, and new authentication technologies”.

With more than 150 million users in more than 220 countries, the creation of its own token or the acceptance of cryptocurrencies by Airbnb as a means of payment could once again boost the cryptocurrency industry.

Even if nothing has been confirmed by the company yet, crypto-actives have multiple applications in the rental sector. Thus, Airbnb could use cryptocurrencies in several ways.

For example, it is quite possible to imagine that Airbnb will soon be issuing their own tokens, which could for example be used to obtain discounts on Airbnb apartments.

In 2016, the company also acquired the crypto start-up ChangeTip. The company could therefore set up a system of cryptocurrencies tips for guests, or perhaps integrate cryptocurrencies into the means of payment available on the site!

But all will not happen without constraints, and the company will have to navigate in a completely new regulatory framework for the rental sector.

Let’s not forget that the SEC recently blocked Facebook’s Libra issue, due to concerns about the risk it could pose to the dollar. Airbnb may have some work to do to successfully integrate cryptocurrencies into its business model, but the fact that large companies like this one are openly citing their intentions to engage in this technology is another victory for the crypto sector.