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Interview: Nuno Correia, CEO and Founder of Utrust

We got the opportunity to speak to the CEO and Founder of Utrust (blockchain payments network) Nuno Correia about the company’s recent activities, partnerships, and operating ethos / methodology.

Utrust recently partnered with Alternative Airlines – resulting in the addition of instant crypto-to-fiat conversions when it comes to the booking of flights. In recent reports the company is said to have enjoyed a 92% YOY increase in growth throughout 2019, compared to 2018.

This means that consumers are now able to use cryptocurrency as a means of payment for flights across: over 600+ airlines, alongside over 160 supported fiat currencies and 25+ digital payment methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Alipay.

“We are modernizing the purchasing process for booking flights by providing instant crypto-to-fiat conversions. Alternative Airlines can now settle payments directly to its bank in fiat on the same day they are received, protecting them from potential market volatility.

“Passengers can now purchase flights with cryptocurrencies to destinations around the world. Considered to be a high ticket item, travellers need to be able to trust the merchant when paying large sums for a flight.

“We are engendering this trust and credibility in Alternative Airlines so its users can rest assured that they are getting what they pay for. This is achieved through the introduction of instant cross border transactions and crypto-to-cash settlements.”

Nuno Correia (CEO and Founder of Utrust)

The airline sector appears to be seeing a decline in profits and custom, amongst airline carriers in particular, with many of which having ceased operations between 2019 and 2020.

Whilst Coronavirus has only made this worse, it is clear that the likes of FlyBe and now (perhaps) British Airways were having difficulties before the viral pandemic scare.

Whilst the symptoms and death toll of coronavirus are comparable to the flu or the common cold, it hasn’t stopped governments worldwide from exercising emergency powers to their full extent. Just look at the domestic and cross-national quarantines being implemented by many countries including the US, Spain and Italy, for example.

This does open up opportunities for new competition in the market: either by new carriers, or those who hope to disrupt like Alternative Airlines.

“Alternative Airlines is an award-winning company recognized in the 2019 Sunday Times Fast Track Tech 100, which highlights the top 100 fastest growing technology companies and awarded Best Selling Travel Agent 2017. Travelers can book flights with all major airlines, including Delta, United, British Airways, Virgin and Emirates. It also provides competitively priced flights across smaller, national and regional airlines on a list that spans over 600 carriers. Considering this, it was an easy decision to partner with Alternative Airlines.

The online travel industry is a highly competitive, low-margin market, with traditional card payment methods incurring fees, and drawbacks when settling different currencies. These issues can result in a loss of margin. This is why Utrust adds value by introducing instant cross border transactions, buyer protection, and crypto-to-cash settlements.”

Nuno Correia (CEO and Founder of Utrust)

“We are removing the problems associated with traditional payment methods that have beset Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) including; high transaction fees and multi-currency settlement issues.

“Utrust’s 1% transaction fee is a huge boon for the industry, in contrast with traditional players who charge as much as 7% – a significant hit to a company’s bottom line.

“Adding to our expansive merchant portfolio, this partnership marks our first foray into the OTA market.

“With existing merchants in the luxury cosmetics, precious gems, global sports brands, and consumer electronics sectors, this is a crucial next step in reaching new audiences and growing our user base. We are excited to see what 2020 brings while we continue to push into new industries, onboarding new merchants”.

Nuno Correia (CEO and Founder of Utrust)

Utrust is not-uniquely positioned in Zug, Switzerland has come to be known as the ‘Crypto Valley’ due to the ubiquity of cryptocurrency-focused organisations headquartered in the region.

This is due to a combination of low national and municipal taxation clauses pertaining to financial technology companies in the region -> as well as crypto-friendly legislation.

“Zug and, in particular, the Crypto Valley, is renowned for being at the cutting edge of blockchain regulation and innovation. We wanted to embrace a jurisdiction with a well-defined regulatory framework – Switzerland and more specifically Zug stood out in this regard. In May, Utrust was granted approval from Switzerland’s financial markets regulator FINMA, to operate as a financial intermediary…

“We have offices in London, Lisbon, and Braga. While Portugal has had a more conservative approach, it has a growing developer and meetup community and is definitely an untapped hub where we see great potential, especially enticing due to competitive labor costs…

“Businesses naturally thrive in an open, free and fair economy and Switzerland’s well-defined business legislation and transparent tax system are a core part of this. That aside, many companies are attracted to Switzerland because of its advanced infrastructure and wealth of talent.”

Nuno Correia (CEO and Founder of Utrust)

Utrust also recently joined the bandwagon of cryptocurrency partnership in the world of sports, with its sponsorship of Portuguese football team S.L. Benfica.

Other partnerships between cryptocurrency and sports organisations of note include Litecoin with the Miami Dolphins and GLORY Kickboxing, and Justin Sun’s TRON partnering with vSport.

Launching the Utrust platform with one of Europe’s major football teams, S.L. Benfica, was a huge milestone for us. Utrust is bringing instant transactions and buyer protection to S.L. Benfica’s 14 million supporters.

“Fans across the globe can pay for merchandise and match tickets on the official Benfica online store with the top cryptocurrencies. Following in Utrust’s footsteps, this was succeeded by cryptocurrency payment providers teaming up with Watford FC, Atlético de Madrid, and Turkish Football Club Galatasaray Spor Kulübü.

“Crypto companies and football clubs share many similarities, not least a loyal fan base with a diverse community. Many sports teams attract global fan bases so protecting against price volatility is really important in ensuring supporters don’t get short-changed.

“We are setting the global benchmark for crypto-sports partnerships and will continue to enhance our services to allow S.L. Benfica and its supporters to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to crypto payments.”

Nuno Correia (CEO and Founder of Utrust)