Transcripts unearth insurers’ interest in blockchain

Transcripts unearth insurers’ interest in blockchain | Insurance Business

Transcripts unearth insurers’ interest in blockchain

If you talk about it, it means you’re thinking about it. That’s the belief of Thomas Mason, a research analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, who examined global insurance firms’ call transcripts to gauge their keenness when it comes to blockchain technology.

According to Mason, conference calls provide a useful barometer of a company’s interest in blockchain as they indicate that executives think about it. Now it’s been revealed which side of the planet is most interested.

Based on transcripts from publicly traded insurance underwriters where speakers mentioned the term “blockchain,” “distributed ledger,” or “crypto” at least once, it was found that insurers discussing blockchain technology the most on conference calls came from Europe.

In addition to earnings calls, the data compiled earlier this month also included transcripts of events such as analyst/investor days and industry conferences.

Europe bested all other regions with 15 transcripts, followed by Asia-Pacific’s eight. Tied with APAC was the combined US and Canada – which Mason said could mean that US insurers are taking a wait-and-see approach… either that or they’re just more secretive about their blockchain plans.

Meanwhile the Latin America and Caribbean region, which included Bermuda, had two transcripts. As for insurers in the Middle East and Africa, not a single transcript mentioned blockchain technology.

“One project that caught our attention in the European market was AXA’s Fizzy,” noted Mason. “The flight insurance product uses smart contracts written to the Ethereum blockchain and automatically pays a claim if a passenger’s flight is delayed more than two hours. AXA launched Fizzy in September 2017 and at the time offered coverage for only a few routes a day.

“As of mid-June 2018, AXA had expanded the app to 5% of worldwide routes. But merely the fact that it launched is noteworthy, as many projects from other companies, both in and outside the insurance realm, remain in proof-of-concept mode.”

The analyst also cited the likes of Allianz SE, Prudential Plc, and SCOR SE as among the prominent European (re)insurers who have publicly disclosed blockchain initiatives.

However, there’s one particular insurer who looks extra keen on the technology’s prospects.

“While European insurers collectively discussed blockchain on the most number of conference calls, Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. took the top spot in our ranking of individual insurers,” said Mason. “Ping An considers blockchain one of its five core technologies, as executives mentioned during an investor day in November 2017; the others are biometrics, big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.”

The research also drew attention to blockchain consortiums such as B3i (Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative) and The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance.