February 5, 2018 / 8:56 AM / in 9 months

UPDATE 1-AIRSHOW-Singapore Airlines plans blockchain tech for frequent flyer spending

* To launch new digital wallet app in about six months

* Frequent flyers can spend their miles at retail partners

* Travel groups starting to explore blockchain tech (Adds detail, blockchain investment by Lufthansa)

SINGAPORE, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Singapore Airlines plans to use blockchain technology to give its frequent flyers a new way to spend their accumulated miles, it said on Monday.

The company said a digital wallet app for its KrisFlyer loyalty programme would be launched in about six months and it would be signing up retail partners in the Singapore market to begin with.

"I think we are the first airline to do it," Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong told the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, a gathering of aviation leaders on the eve of Asia's largest air show.

Singapore Airlines last month said it will invest "hundreds of millions" of dollars in digital technology over several years as part of a broader transformation designed to remain competitive against global rivals.

Blockchain functions as an online record-keeping system or digital ledger maintained by a random group of peers rather than any central agency or authority.

While best known for underpinning bitcoin and other alternative currencies, blockchain holds promise for changing how transactions are handled in many industries.

The Singapore Airlines technology is its own private blockchain involving only merchants and partners, it said in a statement.

Both German airline group Lufthansa and Air New Zealand last year teamed up with Switzerland-based start-up Winding Tree to build blockchain-based travel apps as the companies look at new ways of distributing tickets and services to customers.

European travel group TUI has also developed its own blockchain-based inventory system for hotel bookings. (Reporting by Tim Hepher in Singapore; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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