Soft Space, a Malaysia-based fintech-as-a-service (FaaS) provider, and Inflight Dublin, a prominent provider of inflight entertainment (IFE) solutions, have announced a strategic collaboration aimed at transforming the airline inflight experience, from ordering to paying for goods and services.

Under the terms of the agreement, Inflight Dublin will integrate Soft Space’s inflight Point-of-Sale (POS) system, Fasspos, with its Everhub platform, creating a customer-centric retail experience for airline passengers, Soft Space said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the statement, this integration allows passengers to select from a wide variety of entertainment options, such as movies, music, and games, and make inflight purchases directly from their own devices via in-seat ordering.

This collaboration streamlines airline operations by having one single platform for making payments, allowing airlines to connect to various acquiring banks and payment processors.

This leads to faster and smoother checkout rates, which enhances the overall passenger experience.

It also streamlines the entire payment process making it transparent and seamless for users.

Soft Space noted that the potential of this collaboration is immense, given the growth of the inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) market in the Asia-Pacific region, which is expected to reach $382 million by 2029, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.02 percent from 2024 to 2029.

It noted that this partnership positions both companies to expand their offerings across multiple countries in the region and capture a significant share of this burgeoning market.

According to the statement, the travel market is expected to grow as tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels and ancillary revenue becomes key for airlines to combat rising inflation.

The number of visitors to Southeast Asian countries topped 100 million last year, reaching 70 percent of the pre-COVID level in 2019.

In the last decade, global ancillary revenues – defined as revenue from non-ticket sources – more than doubled from $42.6 billion in 2013 to $102 billion in 2022.

Airlines and passengers globally have also found ancillary purchases beneficial, creating a stable income source for carriers and lower fares for consumers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Soft Space to bring AirAsia’s passengers an enhanced inflight experience,” said John White, Chief Executive Officer of Inflight Dublin.

“By integrating Soft Space’s cutting-edge payment solution with our platform, we are setting a new standard for inflight entertainment and convenience, benefiting all airlines that partner with us,” he said.

According to him, this collaboration closes the last-mile gap in collecting payments in-flight.

“Linking with Soft Space’s Fasspos allows us to maintain one single platform that has connections to many acquirers in different regions. This reduces the technology effort for us and will enhance our go to market strategy,” he added.

Joel Tay, Chief Executive Officer of Soft Space, said that payments for airlines is an area where they believe innovation and technology can be widely applied.

“AirAsia has adopted our payment technology from the start and has helped push what is possible in technology to the cutting edge,” he said.

He believes that the travel segment is a vital part of cross-border payments and ecosystem building and they are committed to building a full-stack payment solution suited for airlines.

“This will help airlines grow their ancillary revenue and leverage their ecosystem to offer loyalty and financial services,

“The partnership with Inflight Dublin and pilot program with AirAsia is a key milestone in this goal,” he added.

It is noted that Inflight Dublin’s Everhub platform is a comprehensive wireless inflight entertainment solution that includes hardware, software, content, and design, allowing airlines to offer their passengers inflight entertainment streamed directly to their devices.

Fasspos, powered by Soft Space’s payment platform, enables flight attendants to accept card payments seamlessly and securely.

This solution will be initially implemented by AirAsia, the largest low-cost carrier in Asia, which aims to leverage this technology to elevate and personalize the inflight experience for its passengers.

This move is expected to open new revenue streams through advertising and retail in the future.

It is also noted that ancillary revenue is a significant contributor to AirAsia’s income, and this partnership will add another stream.

AirAsia will serve as a role model for other airlines to follow suit, said the statement.

Japan’s GMO Financial Gate invests in Malaysia’s FinTech firm Soft Space