Monday, 13 July 2020

Digital coins a first for Scottish hotel the Lovat

A SCOTTISH hotel has become the first official partner of a new digital currency and will accept it as payment from customers with the aim of future-proofing the establishment.

The idea was sparked in by a conversation between Alfredo Alongi, new owner of the Lovat in Perth, and a customer, during which they discovered they both traded Incognito (INC), which The National revealed in June had been launched by a Strathclyde University graduate, who described it as the most secure digital coin on the market.

Alongi, who is based in Edinburgh, said the discovery prompted him to consider if cryptocurrency was something “we should be embracing”.

The Lovat shut in January but has relaunched with a £250,000 refurbishment, including the opening of a family restaurant.

Alongi said: “The Lovat is an institution which local people care deeply about, so we want to make sure we respect its heritage.

“The musical theme of the new restaurant is an homage to live music acts which historically took centre stage in the hotel. The walls are now covered with records and musical instruments to reflect that. Also high on our agenda was to invite back the staff who had been let down by the previous management due to the sudden closure at the start of the year.

“Saying that, we’re fully aware the hotel needs to move with the times in order to thrive and we’re taking some radical steps to modernise the place.”

Aside from offering customers more choice when paying for their room, with Incognito he said he believed that cryptocurrency offers financial benefits for the hospitality industry.

“Hotels lose out on a significant amount of revenue to online travel agents like,” he said.

“Cryptocurrency has the potential to boost direct bookings as the transaction exists purely between the customer and the service provider – there’s no middle man and no additional fees for either party.

“There are also benefits to adopting this technology early on. As more consumers embrace cryptocurrency, they’ll be looking for businesses who are ahead of the curve and experienced in handling these types of transactions.

“We chose Incognito over bigger players like Bitcoin and Ethereum for two reasons. It’s very accessible and affordable, meaning a wider range of people can invest in it.

“It’s also a more secure option, developed with an additional layer of protection, meaning it’s less open to potential issues like hacking.”

The news came after the head of world’s largest blockchain laboratory – at Edinburgh University – told The National how the sector was working to ensure its long-term security after two major exchange hacks at Bithumb and Coinrail.

Aggelos Kiayias who is also chief scientist at IOHK, the blockchain research and development company behind cryptocurrency Cardano, said: “We are very actively working on this aspect: providing the tools for building high assurance blockchain systems that can be trusted to serve as the global infrastructure for all the potential applications of blockchain technology.

“Building security critical information technology applications is very challenging but is by no means insurmountable.

“There is still a lot of effort required to provide general purpose high assurance blockchain solutions but I am confident we will reach that level in the near future.”

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