Airbnb chief executive officer Brian Chesky indicated that new payment and host features could be on the horizon for the company during a fireside chat at the Skift Global Forum in New York on Wednesday.

The 41-year-old executive discussed how the tech company has continued to bounce back since the pandemic wiped out 80% of its business in early 2020. Now that it’s seeing business rebound, Airbnb is focusing on aspects beyond accommodations. This may even include a wider range of payment options.

 

 

“Payments are in our DNA,” said Chesky. “We’ve handled more than $300 billion in payments through our custom built payment processes that we launched. We’re looking at a lot of new things for payments. There’s a really big trend on-buy now, pay-later and pay with installments.”

When asked for more details, the executive hedged on divulging on what this new feature may definitively entail.

Airbnb’s platform may include “buy now, pay later” technology, but it will likely encompass a range of options, from currency translation to payments that are popular in specific locales, according to Dan Wasiolek, senior equity analyst for Morningstar Research Services. 

“The point of it is really to improve the user experience,” Wasiolek said.

Fintech is already catching on with competitors. Booking Holdings has seen initial success with its own payment options feature, which accounted for ​​38% of the company’s gross bookings in its second quarter, a four percentage point increase from the previous quarter.

In addition to potential new payment options, Chesky said Airbnb is looking at ways it can increase the transparency between hosts and consumers. 

“I think it’s a huge initiative that they have to pick up and it’s going to be something that they’re going to have to continue to push on for years to come,” said Madeline List, a senior research analyst at Phocuswright, a travel industry research firm. 

The company may explore this by introducing a host search category. 

“What if you could stay with a musician, and you could see the structured data about who that person is?” said Chesky. “I think matching people based on their personal attributes, not just the properties, is key.”

The possibility of new payment and host features comes on the heels of the return of Airbnb experiences. The company paused the vertical during the pandemic shutdown in 2020. But now that there are fewer health and safety concerns, Airbnb has revived the category where consumers can book activities like pasta-making and walking tours.

Chesky said the company plans to “make some ample investments” in experiences and that a product refresh may also take place in the future.