ZhongAn: Insurtech Giant Believes in Blockchain’s Transformational Power
“Insurance is backed by statistics and blockchain will help to connect that massive and varied data,” said Chen Wei, the head of technology at ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance, China’s largest online insurer. “It will be used to manage risk and improve pricing.”
According to South China Morning Post, ZhongAn currently has data-sharing agreements with more than 100 hospitals in China to help them streamline their existing records and claims.
“Insurance sales used to rely on agents and individual salespeople, however, younger generations prefer making online purchases,” said Chen. “Insurance clients no longer need to file paper documents as proof; instead they can just say when and which hospital they attend.”
ZhongAn Technology Uses Blockchain Technology in Their Operations
ZhongAn Technology is a specialized incubator that emerged from Zhong An, the first entirely online digital insurer in China. It was initially founded in 2013 by Jack Ma, the Alibaba Group Chairman, Pony Ma Huateng, the Tencent Holdings Chairman, and Peter Ma Mingzhe, the Ping, an insurance chairman. ZhongAn Technology currently serves 10 Chinese insurers. ZhongAn tech helps these companies tailor their services to their customers and improve risk analysis.
The Insurtech startup also uses blockchain technology for many operational processes. Chen mentioned that the company uses blockchain to store their insurance policies securely from ZhongAn online, its parent company.
ZhongAn Technology has also partnered with Shanghai’s insurance regulatory bureau to create a reinsurance platform that is powered by the blockchain. The idea is to improve security and traceability of reinsured policies. “We are trying to combine blockchain with real-life scenarios,” said Cheng. Furthermore, ZhongAn Technology also has a team dedicated to exploring new and emerging technologies.
China Takes the Lead When it Comes to Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology has gained significant momentum in China despite the government’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies in 2017. China has even become one of the first countries to include blockchain technology in their state-level policy. They have written the use of blockchain technology in their 13th five-year plan which consists of a roadmap of government developments from 2016 to 2020.
According to the World Intellectual Patent Organization by Thomson Reuters, more than half of the 400 blockchain-related patent applications in 2017 also came from China. While many of these applications may not be approved, the sheer number of blockchain patents from China show that they are moving at a fast pace when it comes to blockchain technology.
“They are a tool that can shut out competitors and provide first movers an advantage,” said Alex Batteson, Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law editor. “Many of the largest companies in the tech world make the majority of their income from licensing patented technology.”
China’s President Xi has also stated in a speech after visiting the Chinese Academy of Sciences that emerging technologies like blockchain, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, mobile communication and the internet of things are a “new generation of technologies that accelerate a breakthrough in applications.”