Welcome to another episode in ours News Flash series, where we share the latest developments in the blockchain space, straight off the press. Today we are joined again by Ranvir Saggu, who previously featured in Ep.8 – Building a Blockchain PoC/Pilot, and we welcome Bradley Brandon-Cross to Insureblocks for the first time.

Ranvir is CEO at Blocksure – a blockchain business specifically focussing on implementing blockchain in the insurance space, and is currently focussing on Blocksure OS, which is a platform set to revolutionise the insurance industry. He is a seasoned insurance executive with over 25 years in-depth experience across various composite insurers, with hands-on experience in delivering large transformational programmes at the highest level.

Bradley is Managing Director at Commercial & General– a small independent insurance broker which focuses on both commercial and consumer insurance lines. Bradley also has a wealth of experience in insurance, leading GE Capital’s primary insurance business in Europe and responsible for innovative products such as the first Shariah compliant insurance product authorised by the FSA.

Ranvir and his team at Blocksure have been developing Blocksure OS for 4 years, with 2 years in concept and 2 years spent on PoC and validation. Throughout the final year they were looking for pioneering brokers to partner with in designing an innovative concept product on their new platform. Bradley and his team at Commercial & General were instantly excited by the technology and the prospect of reducing costs and improving customer flow and beginning product development on their Blocksure OS platform.

The Product

Together with Covéa Insurance, Blocksure and Commercial & General are releasing Insure Now. Insure Now is a tenant’s policy targeted at millennials, where blockchain facilitates policy administration and premium collection with the entire insurance methodology built around the technology. It is the first insurance product in Europe which utilises blockchain and the first product to be built on the Blocksure OS platform, which uses a microservice architecture with R3’s corda platform at its core. The product is smartphone based, with an app controlling the interactions of the customer, catering for their every need through a simple user interface on their phone, a revolution in the paperwork heavy insurance world.

The blockchain engine allows secure and validated contracts in each part of the database which can be viewed in real-time by all parties, behind a web-enabled front end. Previous platforms utilised for tenant’s insurance have been plagued by issues with database integrity and data transferral between brokers and insurers, and third-party administrators. However, blockchain should alleviate some of the back-office costs by removing these issues and a huge amount of the administrative mess, ensuring that companies can focus on the customer experience. Real-time updates and automated functionality allow changes to policies to be administered with minimal fuss and within seconds, reducing cost and time and providing obvious benefits to the customer.

What challenges have been faced in blockchain adoption?

At Commercial & General, one of the main hurdles to overcome was understanding blockchain and how it would work in practice. Ranvir and his team at Blocksure were excellent at explaining the basics of the concept and helped the team overcome these initial challenges. However, there are always some who do not fully understand the benefits, and it is important that these people recognize the innovative and experimental nature of the product and look at all the positive feedback garnered from users and testers.

Challenges have been further minimised by Ranvir’s team building the platform from an insurance-first perspective, enabling them to explain the benefits of the platform in ‘insurance-speak’. Not only does this allow insurance brokers to better comprehend the technology and reduce the associated challenges with that, but it also helps attract other insurers to Blocksure OS and inspire executives to use Blockchain in the future.

The journey to the product

Production started with Blocksure creating a PoC, demonstrating how the blockchain platform could deliver an insurance product and the benefits associated with this. Next, it was essential to find like-minded executives who were looked for innovative ways to disrupt the market. Bradley, and his team at Commercial and General, were perfectly suited, as they immediately saw the benefits and changes which could be made to the customer experience.

After a programme of stringent testing, the product was made live, as of Monday. However, promotional efforts have been minimal, as whilst both Ranvir and Bradley are confident in the functionality of the product, they maintain that they should not ‘run before they can walk’ and avoid overloading the product in its first weeks.

Future uses of Blocksure OS

If successful, Bradley openly discusses expanding Blocksure OS to other Commercial & General products, with the potential of a new brand for blockchain based business and the possibility of end-to-end claims processing. Increasing the ease of service and reducing paper records are beneficial to customer experience, as is reducing the administration fee for an MTA. Most companies charge between £15 and £25 for these, but Bradley claims that this could be reduced to £1 – reflecting a potential reduction in backroom time and expenditure for the insurer of up to 90%.

Reducing administration costs also has benefits for those at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum as it allows insurers to offer products which are currently uneconomic to underwrite. The benefits are huge for the gig-economy, with other products offering Airbnb and Deliveroo-type covers in the pipeline, allowing these emerging sectors to be covered where it previously was uneconomic to do so. (For more info stay tuned for upcoming episode on Blockchain in emerging markets).

Real-time updates can help rebuild trust between insurers and insured parties, previously damaged by fear of fraud or non-payment of claims. Blockchain facilitates more expansive data capture in real-time, allowing users to take smartphone photos immediately if an item is lost or damaged, providing a first notification of loss and allowing the relationship between insurer and insured to begin to improve.

From the Blocksure perspective, they have a small number of products they are aiming to deliver within the year, and by keeping that number they are looking to build confidence in the technology rather than rushing to meet deadlines. However, Blocksure are currently in numerous conversations with companies, outlining where Blocksure OS can increase value propositions, enabling them to broaden their product suites and surpass limits imposed by their current legacy platforms.

Bradley’s views on the future of his organisation reflect this, with discussions with Ranvir and his team on eventually implementing Blocksure OS platform within all their consumer products, and looking into more complex personalised products, commercial products and healthcare products also. For commercial lines, Commercial & General act as more of a traditional broker and are integrated into traditional systems, potentially proving a more challenging journey for blockchain integration. However, blockchain allows insurers to move away from traditional insurance design and move into the future, providing more product flexibility for customers.

 

Your turn!

Between Blocksure, Commercial & General and Covéa Insurance, they have created Insure Now – a first-in-class product with the potential to demonstrate the practical applications of blockchain to the rest of the sector.

We hope you have enjoyed this news flash, if you liked this episode please do review it on iTunes. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated so please don’t hesitate to add a comment below.

If your organisation has any news you’d like to share regarding blockchain, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll help you spread the word. If you’d like to ask Ranvir or Bradley a question, you can add a comment below and we’ll try to get them over to our site to answer your questions.

 

 

Insurwave, the new marine insurance blockchain platform launched by EY, Guardtime, Microsoft, Willis Tower Watson, XL Catlin, MS Amlin and ACORD and piloted by Maersk has been a recurring theme here at Insureblocks.

In a previous episode, Insurwave – a Maersk pilot for marine blockchain insurance, we examined the client’s perspective. In a more recent episode, Insurwave: the complete story with EY, we discussed the process of creating Insurwave. To complete the circle, today we will look at Insurwave from an insurer’s perspective.

For today’s episode we were lucky enough to have two speakers, Madeline Bailey, Head of Strategic Initiatives at MS Amlin, and Hélène Stanway, Digital Leader at XL Catlin.

Continue reading

Ep.18 – Insurwave: the complete story with EY

In one of our previous episode, Insurwave – a Maersk pilot for marine blockchain insurance, we introduced Insurwave, a new marine blockchain insurance platform launched by EY, Guardtime, Microsoft, Willis Tower Watson, XL Catlin, MS Amlin and ACORD and piloted by Maersk.

This week we are joined by Shaun Crawford, Global Insurance Sector Leader at EY and one of the founders of Insurwave. We will be discussing the complete story of Insurwave, from Proof of Concept to launch.

 

Blockchain in two minutes

A blockchain is a series of blocks of continuous records, where a previous block is effectively a cryptographic copy of the information from the preceding block. The blockchain is managed autonomously using a peer to peer network, meaning that the whole network will know if a peer makes a change to the blockchain. Therefore, everything has to be authenticated. This leads to a live, immutable audit trail.

 

Insurwave

Insurwave is the first product of Insurwave Ltd, a joint venture between EY and Guardtime, a blockchain company whose experience ranges from the NHS to the US Air Force. It is a blockchain platform linking the shipping industry with the brokers, the insurers and reinsurers. At the moment it is focused on providing hull and war cover.

Insurwave is built on the open source version of Corda (See Corda’s latest announcement). The reason for this choice is that Corda is a very mature and privacy-focused blockchain. In other blockchains every peer has access to all the data on the blockchain. Insurwave, however, deals with sensitive company information and requires certain data to only be accessible by certain peers, making Corda the best choice.

 

Building Insurwave

Building Insurwave required looking beyond the insurance industry. Guardtime was chosen both for its expertise in blockchain and its range of experience. Gathering a group including shipping, insurance and technology leaders created a team capable of critically examining existing processes to build a new product from the ground up.

The first step in building Insurwave was to create a PoC. This revolved around ten use cases and considered how blockchain can improve efficiency and reduce costs. In doing that, it was always important for Insurwave to be a new proposition, a completely new business model, rather that a digitisation of existing processes. Insurwave has been an opportunity to re-imagine how the underwriting process would be in the future and how claims handling could become more efficient. The end result is that Insurwave can improve cost efficiency by at least 40 per cent.

As the insurance industry isn’t particularly known for embracing change, building a completely new platform can be challenging. What made Insurwave feasible was having a small team. Having just one shipping company, one broker, an insurer and a reinsurer ensured that the team could examine all facets of the insurance industry while also remaining flexible.

 

Insurwave’s potential

Creating an immutable audit trail and seamlessly sharing data between parties has the potential to improve existing practices in numerous ways.

 

1. Bring risk closer to capital

For shipping companies like Maersk, a major benefit of Insurwave is that it allows them to bring risk closer to capital. In the traditional model, shipping companies have an enormous amount of data that is not being used when the insurer prices a journey. Insurwave can provide the insurer with this data in a structured manner, allowing them to have more certainty, better quantify the risk and provide a better price. The data will also be helpful to brokers, who can use it to look for the right type of insurer and provide a more compelling service.

 

2. Improve the title process and claims handling

Having an immutable audit trail means the title process will become easier and more efficient. All the relevant data will be found at one place, speeding up the process significantly.

 

3. Solvency II

Insurwave also has the potential to help insurers by bringing down Solvency II capital requirements. Presently, because of how the market operates, there is no link between risk and capital and a high level of capital is required under Solvency II.

 

However, if insurers have access to a lot more data points, such as IoT devices on ships, to help them quantify the risk, capital requirements can be reduced. As insurers can better quantify the risk, less capital would be required by the insurance company on the balance sheet to support that leverage. While that is a long-term goal of Insurwave, and regulators will require at least a few years to understand the link between risk and capital requirements, it is a goal Shaun is confident Insurwave can achieve.

Critics could argue that if premiums and capital requirements are reduced while ships and cargo are getting more expensive, the reduced premiums and capital requirements will not suffice to cover for a disaster. Insurwave’s answer is that all the new data available on the blockchain can lead to better decision-making. More information about the ship will become available, such as when it was last serviced or its cargo levels. Information about routes, such as weather and congestion, will also be available to help underwriters cover risks more accurately.

Insurwave’s next steps

The current Insurwave model is ready to be adopted by more clients. The pilot with Maersk has been very encouraging and other shipping companies have shown interest in joining. Insurers have also expressed their interest and many are joining Insurwave at the moment.

In terms of functionalities, Insurwave is currently focused on hull and war cover. Its top priority is making Maersk’s pilot a success. Following that, extra functionalities are planned for sometime around October, with cargo insurance being a potential area.

In the long term, Insurwave is also looking beyond marine insurance. Aviation is a potential field as the airline industry has shown an interest in blockchain but Shaun stresses that Insurwave’s current focus is Maersk’s pilot and building on that experience.

It is also worth noting that Insurwave is open to working with other platforms, whether they are on the Corda blockchain or not. For example, Maersk is also working with IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric on a logistics supply chain project, which could be a suitable partner for Insurwave. At the moment, however, it is too early to speak of interoperability and data exchanges between different blockchains.

 

Insurwave’s advice

Shaun has been working on Insurwave since day one, making him well-suited to give anyone interested in blockchain some advice on how to embark on their blockchain journey and evaluate the stability of their business processes.

 

1. Work on your PoC

The PoC stage proved to be a challenging aspect of building Insurwave. The team had to reconstruct their concept numerous times to get it to work. For that reason, it is important to start small and build up from that.

Once a PoC is ready, it is important not to announce too fast. Insurwave was actually initially considering a different solution. In hindsight, Shaun is thankful they waited until they had a working pilot as Insurwave is now in a better direction.

 

2. Work with your ecosystem

Having Maersk on Insurwave’s team was an invaluable asset. It ensured Insurwave was built tailored to client needs and ready to provide a value adding service. Additionally, having a broker, an insurer and a reinsurer on the team means Insurwave has been built using feedback and input from the whole industry. This has made Insurwave a well integrated platform to be used by the whole industry, proven by its popularity with shipping companies and insurers alike.

 

3. Be business driven

When working with blockchain it is easy to become too focused on the technology and miss the practical side of things. While it is necessary to understand the technology behind the solution, Shaun stresses the importance of first designing a business solution and then using the technology to implement it.

 

4. Structure your data

There is a lot of data in the insurance industry and blockchain is well placed to take advantage of this. Before this is possible, however, the data must be constructed in a format that can be used by the blockchain. One of the first steps, therefore, is to digitise the data and ensure it is structured correctly so it can be used effectively in the blockchain.

 

Your Turn!

Shaun shares some insider perspective on how Insurwave came to be, the challenges it faced along the way and its goals for the future.

If you liked this episode please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments or suggestions on how we could improve, please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask Shaun a question, feel free to add a comment below and we’ll get him over to our site to answer your questions.

 

Thank you Shaun!

 

 

An Italian Commercial Insurance Blockchain Pilot

Here at Insureblocks we love hearing about interesting real-life insurance blockchain pilots. So we were very excited to hear about the launch of Generali’s quotation process blockchain pilot. To learn more about this pilot we had the great pleasure of having Marco Boni, Group Head of Operational Excellence & Transformation at Generali, who is “genetically in love with technology”, join us for a chat on Insureblocks to take us through the journey they went through in building this Italian commercial insurance blockchain pilot.

2 Minute Definition of Blockchain

Instead of blockchain, Marco preferred to define what is DLT (distributed ledger technology). Small note to remember is that blockchain is a type of DLT. DLT is a technology that allows the storage of information in a distributed way. You can write on this distributed database, in an encrypted immutable way, after reaching a consensus amongst the participants. This technology enables you to increase the trust between all parties within an industry.

As the data is visible, agreed and secure, you can leverage smart contracts, self-executing codes, to automate business rules.

Challenges of the Italian commercial insurance ecosystem

Marco refers to the Italian commercial insurance ecosystem as “Spaghetti Insurance” as it isn’t that evolved. Therefore, the steps for the placement of commercial risk is done through manual activities. Back and forth information flow between carriers and brokers is done by phone and unstructured emails which complicates the matter when you have to draw up a policy based on this kind of unstructured information. This requires you to chase all the relevant parties to try and rebuild the entire negotiation, for the structure of the policy, that is perfectly in line with the needs of the client.

This is a very inefficient process which increases the risk of misalignment when structuring a policy.

Market perspective solution

Generali tackled those challenges by taking a market perspective and a market cooperation approach. They started from a business pain point that wasn’t connected to technology and realised that there existed problems that were shared at a market level.

They started by taking a market perspective approach by identifying the business pain points that were shared at a market level. This type of initiative and desire to solve those common problems together is within itself the biggest innovation they carried out over the last 2.5 years in the Italian market.

The initial founders of this initiative from the carrier side were Generali, AIG and UnipolSai with Zurich Italy recently joining the initiative. From the broker side the original founders were AON and Willis Tower Watson with Assiteca recently joining in.

 

Why was DLT selected over other more traditional technologies and what are the challenges with it?

Once the pain points had been identified in early 2016, the initial approach to resolving those problems was with traditional technologies such as centralised relational databases. However, with so many competitors sitting around the table it was quickly realised that such a solution wouldn’t be viable as it would require building a centralised infrastructure. Towards the end of 2016 they started investigating the power of DLT and its ability to offer competitors the opportunity to work together in a decentralised manner whilst providing the necessary security, confidentiality and privacy they all required.

Marco does point out that whilst the features of DLT were superior to traditional technologies, for their requirements, there were challenges to its adoption. The main complexity with DLT wasn’t necessarily around technology but was related to coopetition (cooperation between competitors), a first in the Italian market. Defining the legal framework on how the participants of this prototype will be working in the future is the biggest challenge they are now facing.

 

Linear journey to the launch of the DLT pilot

  1. Business pain point identified within the commercial risk placement.
  2. Agreement on the need to define a standard for the exchange of data between broker and carrier for a property risk.
  3. Discussion on the use of traditional technology for facilitating this exchange of information between the parties which failed leading them to start exploring the use of DLT. Due to the intrinsic qualities of DLT the participants agreed to use it and signed up CapGemini to help them translate into functionality the identified business requirements.
  4. A proof of concept was launched and completed in November 2017.
  5. At the present moment they are now working on defining the legal framework of the prototype with a view to launch the first property policy at the beginning of 2019.

 

Features of the DLT pilot

Two use cases were developed for the pilot. The first one is a generic placement of a property risk where the broker is collecting the risk information (e.g. client master data, location details, covers that should be activated, and possibility of exchanging the terms and conditions of the application). Broker is able to upload the minimum set of information onto the system and ask the carriers if there is appetite for this particular risk. Once a carrier, or carriers express interest in proceeding the broker will complete adding the remaining additional information in order for the negotiation to commence around key data points such as deductibles, limits, and activated cover. All back and forth communication on the DLT platform is recorded in a blockchain structure allowing the underwriter and account executive to keep track of all the changes that are done within the negotiation.

A policy is thus built on a secure DLT platform on a commonly agreed set of structured data points.

The second case use case is essentially the same but it is for a co-insurance negotiation where a broker and two or more insurers can negotiate the direct co-insurance of the commercial property.

 

Interoperability, Corda, and B3i

An interesting question that comes up is that as this DLT app is built on Corda, is there opportunities for it to be interoperable with B3i as it’s also built on Corda? Additionally, would it be possible for other insurance carriers and brokers to license out this DLT app and use it in their respective market? Marco believes this is a future that we could be heading towards to but it isn’t one that they have yet started to look at.

 

Your Turn!

Marco shares many other fascinating insights and some top tips for launching a blockchain / DLT solution. If you liked the podcast please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments, suggestions on how we could make it better please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask a question to Marco feel free to add a comment below and will get him over to our site to answer your questions.

Thanks again Marco!

 

 

B3i: building a blockchain digital network of trust 

B3i, the blockchain insurance industry initiative, often comes up in episodes on Insureblocks. Greg Crow gave us an introduction to B3i in Episode 2 from an XL Catlin stand point. So we were very excited when we had the opportunity to talk to B3i’s CEO, Paul Meeusen.  In this exciting episode we discuss not only how blockchain can help build a digital network of trust but also hear about why B3i chose to replace the IBM Hyperledger Fabric with R3’s Corda to become their new blockchain platform.

 

2-minute definition of blockchain

Paul describes blockchain as a Cloud + +. What are the “+ +”? Cloud computing is about sharing. Sharing reinsurance contract needs to be done in a safe manner. Safety whilst sharing on the blockchain is secured through cryptography to safe guard data so that only the parties who are part of the contract can see it.

Another element of the “+ +” is the smart contract capability, which enable us to codify business rules for the sharing of value in an intelligent way.

 

B3i and its journey

B3i as a company, is only a few months old as it was recently incorporated in Switzerland. However, its journey started 2 years ago as a loosely held together joint venture. Initially as a group of 5, then 15 and then more insurance companies sharing their experience of blockchain. Early 2017 they built a blockchain prototype that became a minimum viable product (MVP) developed on IBM Hyperledger Fabric for a reinsurance application.

In the fall of 2017 they had a total of 36 market participants to market test the reinsurance prototype by simulating a range of CAT events. The positive results from this test formed the basis of B3i’s business plan to incorporate and raise funding from 13 insurance companies who became their funding shareholders. B3i is now raising a second round.

 

Paul Meeusen’s journey to blockchain

During one of Paul’s last role at Swiss Re, he was setting up a finance service centre in India.  Paul was stationed in India’s tech savy city, Bangalore. 3 years ago he tried to envisage the possibility of using blockchain for reinsurance processes by testing out its concept with his front line staff. They quickly realised that the technology could be used to reduce the inefficiencies around duplication and reconciliation.

Such a blockchain technology could bring all the brokers, reinsurers and primaries on a platform for working together and sharing data to make their lives easier.

Outside of the business environment Paul also noted that blockchain could be used for identity management and counter party management (eg. audit trail of provenance) in a country like India where proof of identity and of ownership is important where most information is stored on paper.

 

Blockchain providing peace of mind

In spite of having a laudable objective, insurance isn’t known for having a positive brand, or a positive customer experience as the likes of the ones of Silicon Valley. Paul makes the comment that “would you take your children to the broker on a Saturday morning or to the Apple store?

There’s obviously a gap. Part of the problem lays with the two primary customer touch points. The first is the buying experience which is quite poor, most customers don’t fully understand it and it often feels to them as paying though they are paying for taxes when paying their premiums. The second touch point is when a claim happens. This isn’t a pleasant experience as the insured usually has to provide proof in a cumbersome way to be entitled to a reimbursement. Blockchain can help alleviate the challenges of those two touch points by making them more efficient. Contracts could be made to be more easily understood. The data we have on our policy holders and their assets can help us be more in touch with those customers and help them with loss prevention. Insurance companies can be more preventative in many different ways from black boxes in the car for analysing driving behaviour to health care to help identify patterns to avoid losses to happen.

The insurance industry can use all this data and analyse it in a manner that can facilitate it to become a more customer centric industry with its customers at its heart.

Conversely, with blockchain technology these customers will be able to take their insurance data from one company to another. They will be the custodians of that data and will be able to grant access to whomever they want and for the desired duration. This is very much in the same spirit as GDPR.

 

B3i providing peace of mind

B3i has a roadmap that aims to take them to a legal binding contract settling on their platfrom. Their first step is for a property Cat XOL contract for companies to accept risk, bind these contracts in digital form on B3i. In parallel they are developing other property, causalty and life insurance products. The B3i team very much believe in an approach similar to the one of apps on the App Store. The point being you need some a base network infrastructure to hold it together. B3i wants insurance companies to see them as the insurance and reinsurance operating system. To that they will add trusted sources of information via oracles. With that you have efficiency, security and reliability across the networks for an ecosystem to blossom in terms of apps and in terms of geographical location.

 

Why did B3i move to R3’s Corda blockchain technology platform?

Paul reminds us that working with new innovative technologies involves trying them out. B3i first started off by using Ethereum before moving over to Hyperledger. At the end of last year they did some due diligence on their blockchain requirements around 2 core factors: privacy and scalability. During that due diligence process they realised that to make something enterprise grade, for business to business use, they needed to ensure that information can be securely and privately handled so that only the permissioned parties can access it.

Scalability to handle large volumes of data was also an important requirement. Finally a more technical assessment around development productivity with the type of smart contract language used and the development language used was made. Because of these factors, Corda was chosen as the new blockchain technology provider that B3i would be using.

 

Which blockchain network?

Who is the network? Is it Corda? Is it B3i? Is it a B3i flavoured Corda?

B3i uses the Corda technology to build an insurance network. For example onboarding doesn’t come out of the box with Corda. When insurers, brokers, and reinsurers are in the B3i network, B3i ensures that there is proper KYC, onboarding, off boarding, member services, and support processes.

Corda provides the technology, architecture and member management service modules. B3i’s responsibility is to correctly set up the corda technology for it to serve the needs of its insurance network and to ensure it works well, that it is well serviced with the right service level agreements.

 

Your Turn!

Paul shares many other interesting points regarding B3i, including their plans to interact with other start-ups. If you liked the podcast please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments, suggestions on how we could make it better please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask a question to Paul feel free to add a comment below and will get him over to our site to answer your questions.

Thanks again Paul!

 

 

Ep.14 – Blockchain use cases outside of insurance

For this week’s podcast we go out of the insurance world to explore some interesting blockchain use cases and pilots in other industries. In episode 6 we had Ryan Rugg introduce us to R3 the banking blockchain consortium. But for this one we wanted to go out a little bit further. As our guide for this journey we had the pleasure of having Lee Brenner, Chief Engagement Office at the Global Blockchain Business Council, live from Pennsylvania!

 

 

2 Minute Definition of Blockchain

Blockchain technology is a decentralised database that is connected together to create a permanent unchangeable record of data that is loaded onto blocks. Those individual blocks of data are connected to other blocks of data (ie. chained together) on this database. Blockchains act as global notary. Eliminates the middle man by creating a system of trust and a level of confidence between the actors on the system allowing for P2P transactions.

 

The Global Blockchain Business Council

The Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) came out of a meeting of thought leaders (blockchain, government and different industries) hosted by Richard Branson on Nectar Island to really think through how blockchain technology can affect civic society.

The idea of a global institution that unites individuals from the business community and from the blockchain community. The GBBC tries to advocate on behalf of the broader ecosystem to regulators around the world that if they try to regulate blockchain that it is done from an educated point of view.

Another aspect of the GBBC is engaging with government questions on who they should be talking to if either they want to get advice on blockchain or if they want to implement a blockchain solution such as on a land trust or a voting system for example. The GBBC can advice them on which companies can help government implement that whether it’s a startup or an enterprise. They can also share interesting case studies from the business world or from other countries.

The GBBC thus tries to build a broad network from the blockchain industry, the business world, to governments and regulators and to NGOs and charities.

 

Uses cases

Business Processes & Payments – BitPesa

A good example of how blockchain technology can be used in sectors outside of insurance is Bitpesa. Bitpesa tries to answer the question “how can we make financial transactions in Africa more efficient and secure?”. The current system is one were transactions are extremely slow, numerous intermediaries are involved, high costs and in general a very inefficient system.

Bitpesa created a blockchain solution that has built in data privacy, minimal fees and is mobile based thus providing the unbanked in Africa with financial solutions. This provides their customers the ability to make P2P transactions and regulators with automatic real time auditing.

 

Logistics & Supply Chain: Walmart

Walmart has started to use blockchain technology in their supply chain. An example of this was used for tracking pork from Chinese producers to the store front. Walmart wanted to track the origins of the meat and its location in transit along the supply chain. This process would usually take days but with blockchain it could be achieved in minutes.

Applying this technology to the Chinese market was an important move for Walmart as Chinese shoppers remain sceptical of the quality of domestic food products, after various food-related scandals, such as one involving baby milk formula tainted with industrial chemical melamine, dominated headlines for weeks in 2017.

Now Chinese shoppers will be able to scan the food in Walmart shops to see the entire history of the food from farm to store:

Healthcare – MediLedger

How can patients’ medical records be stored, tracked and verified on the blockchain? How can we move from a paperless system to a very secure blockchain one?

Giving the patients control over their data and being able to give permission to participants such as doctors, emergency workers, and members of their family to access their data.

Mediledger for example has built an open network for the pharmaceutical supply chain to be able to trace the provenance and pharmaceutical products and their present location.

This of course can nicely ties in with the insurance industry.

 

Energy Sector – Powerledger

Powerledger, uses blockchain technology to allow P2P solar power usage. Home owners with solar panels in Australia can effectively sell their excess electricity from their solar panels, to their neighbours via the electricity grid. Now Powerledger is looking to expand their solution to other parts around the world such as Puerto Rico which is still suffering from power outages due to the recent hurricanes.

 

Your Turn!

Lee shares many other fascinating examples of blockchain use cases. If you liked the podcast please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments, suggestions on how we could make it better please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask a question to Lee feel free to add a comment below and will get him over to our site to answer your questions.

Thanks again Lee!

 

 

Insurwave – A Maersk pilot for marine blockchain insurance

Too often in the insurance industry we entertain in navel gazing by looking at what we do and what our competitors do, instead of really focusing on who keeps our lights on… our customers. So, for this week’s podcast we look at a customer’s perspective of marine insurance by talking to Lars Henneberg, Head of Risk Management at the logistic and transportation giant Maersk.

Maersk is the pilot customer of a new marine blockchain insurance platform called Insurwave that was launched by EY, Guardtime, Microsoft, Willis Tower Watson, XL Catlin, MS Amlin and ACORD.

As a special treat I was joined by Marilyn Blattner-Hoyle, Head of Supply Chain and Trade Finance at AIG as my co-host.

 

2 minute definition of blockchain

For Lars, blockchain is a technology to share real time data. It gives perfect visibility to the participants. It can conduct a number of transactions simultaneously across a multiparty value chain.

 

What is marine insurance and how does it work?

Shipping has always been in the business of taking risks. As Lars says, “in shipping we like risks we just don’t like the burden of them which is why we come to insurers”. There are four type of risks that require marine insurance:

  • hull and machinery of the vessel itself,
  • container boxes,
  • the cargo that is inside the container and
  • all the liabilities that you can incur as a ship owner (Eg. pollution, damage to the cargo, or injures to the crew)

 

The marine insurance value chain and its challenges

The way that risk is transferred to the insurance market is very long and cumbersome. The distance between risk and capital is simply too long. You’re left with a very long value chain with too many intermediaries, that is very manual:

  • A ship owner goes to a broker
  • The broker goes to an insurer
  • The insurer takes the risk and goes to another broker
  • The broker finds a re-insurer who takes part of the risk
  • The re-insurer goes to another broker to find a retrocession insurer

This value chain is very sequential and linear in how business operates with many frictional costs involved in it. As an example, for Maersk to insure one of its vessels it would typically take 100 document transactions and involve about 50 different stakeholders across the value chain.

There is a lack of transparency in such a value chain because a lot of information gets lost. Significant value leaks because all the intermediaries in the value chain take a portion of the premium as it goes through the value chain. For example up to 40% of the premium is transactional costs. This creates a level of dissatisfaction amongst insurers’ customers as the system is antiquated, it is costly and inefficient.

 

Challenges within the marine industry

The lack of data is a big issue to the marine industry. No one has a holistic view of the risk because insurers have chopped up the risk in fragmented lines of business. Some insure the ports, some insure the vessels, some insure the finance but no one has a holistic view. At the same time there is no real time visibility to the participants in the value chain.

Overall it is a very fragmented, reactive and slow industry which needs to be more forward looking.

This present system ties up too many resources for the customers of marine insurance. It ties up to 75% of their time on insurance contract administration and 25% on risk management. It should be the other way around.

Lars recognises that there has been some initiatives in the insurance industry to make the business model more efficient. Some of these initiatives have looked to get more shared real time visibility of the risk, which means that instead of using static demographic data you can follow the risk in real time such as where are the vessels, where do they trade and at what ports do they call. Additional initiatives have been towards automating underwriting through blockchain smart contracts. The administrative area can be automated by removing some of the manual processes from collection of information, policy distribution and invoicing some of the payments.

 

Maersk joins the Insurwave initiative

On the 25th of May, Maersk, alongside your partners: EY, Guardtime, Microsoft, Willis Towers Watson, XL Catlin, MS Amlin and ACORD,  all announced the launch of Insurwave, the world’s first blockchain solution for marine insurance.

You can watch a short video on Insurwave below:

Maersk was approached by Ernst & Young (EY) who invited Maersk to become the pilot customer on a proof of concept (PoC) to use blockchain to remove the inefficiencies the industry has experienced. The intention of this PoC was to build an operational solution around the Maersk value chain around marine hull insurance. A PoC was launched to see if it was possible to automate and/or eliminate some of the manual processes. If blockchain was the right solution to do that? Whether it was possible to innovate the insurance industry and finally to dig into the concept of smart contracts if they would work in an insurance concept? The PoC was completed by July of last year with an affirmative conclusion to the above questions.

Since then Maersk and their partners have been working hard in operationalising the solution to launch in April 2018.

The production ready solution can be scaled up across marine insurance but also into other industries such as aviation, energy and others. This is about speciality insurance for clients who require speciality insurance.

 

The Insurwave blockchain platform

Insurwave is built on a Corda blockchain platform where data sharing is at its heart. It operates on distributed ledgers which are used to manage identify of the participants on the platform (their authority on the platforms and perform the necessary regulatory checks). Another distributed ledger is used to manage the exposure data where all the data points of the vessels are kept. In the past they used to store up to 7 data points per vessel now with Insurwave they can manage up to 27 data points which would allow more sophisticated underwriting. An additional distributed ledger is used for smart contracts which when combined with exposure data it will transform it into a price of the risk and generate the required endorsements.

There will be a distributed ledger for declarations so when a vessel enters into a war zone there will be different premiums that will automatically apply.

Finally the corda blockchain platform is permissioned giving the participants the right level of permission for accessing data.

 

What opportunities is there for insurers?

If you consider that a lot of the components that are in a premium are cost components, that come from transaction costs, up to 40% of the premium is transactional costs. Blockchain provides insurers with the opportunity to cut some of that transactional costs and to be able to use the capital more accurately as they will have more data on the risk. This means that insurers won’t have to err on the side of caution.

It is a well known fact that in the insurance industry you always pay for uncertainty. However, the richer the data you can deliver, the more certainty you can give insurers about the risk and their ability to price the risk accurately. So, pricing isn’t based on standard models but on a real time picture of your particular risk.

 

Your Turn!

Lars shares many other interesting and fascinating points regarding the opportunity of blockchain in marine insurance. If you liked the podcast please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments, suggestions on how we could make it better please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask a question to Lars feel free to add a comment below and will get him over to our site to answer your questions.

Big thanks to Marilyn for being a great co-host.

Lars Henneberg on Insureblocks

Lars Henneberg on Insureblocks

Thanks again Lars!

Since 2016 we have seen a plethora of Proof of Concepts (PoC) in the insurance space. Some of these PoCs have moved up to the stage of becoming a Pilot. For this week’s episode I had the great pleasure of chatting to David Edwards, CEO at ChainThat and Ranvir Saggu, CEO at Blocksure to discuss building a blockchain PoC and/or pilot in the insurance industry. Both of their respective companies provide enterprise solutions using blockchain, DLT and smart contract to insurance companies.

 

2 Minute Definition of Blockchain

David – Blockchain in insurance is a group of technologies that enables us to transact between parties without having a centralised service provider. Promise of a shared process and what you see, I see.

For Ranvir, it’s a scalable technology that allows insurance partners to build network ecosystems. That can remove up to 30 – 50%of back-office costs, speed up processes and drastically improve the customer experience.

 

Why hasn’t blockchain happened yet?

The insurance industry is slow to adopt new technologies. 2017 was the year of demonstrations and proof of concepts whilst 2018 is the year of large consortiums coming out including the big 4 being involved in blockchain insurance.

Ranvir reminded us that it took at least 10 years for people to start realising the potential of the internet from the moment it started – “We have to remember that we are dealing with a nascent technology which we are trying to apply in a very regulated industry”.

There are numerous hurdles that insurance companies have to overcome to be able to appreciate blockchain technology. Risk departments, compliance departments, claims and finance departments all have to learn how this technology can benefit them. This isn’t going to happen overnight but slowly and surely.

For David insurance companies have to work with their counterparties, potentially their competitors. It requires ecosystem to get these solutions off the ground, and that’s a challenge particularly relevant to the insurance industry. We have seen it with the challenges the London Market had in taking it of the ground. All counter-parties need to invest and be as enthusiastic about the project as each other.

 

Two years ago it made a lot of sense to go down the PoC phase as we weren’t quite sure what could be done with the technology and not many people had  experimented with it. But now there has been so many completed PoCs, so many papers and studies that there isn’t any more real need to prove the technology.

David – “So if you’re going to do something with Blockchain you should build a pilot, put some success criterias, with a mentality to get some value out of it instead of just getting a press release out.”

For Ranvir it’s also about how you do the pilot. Understanding what is it we’re trying to do? It is recognising that there is a lot people with a vested interest, managing their P&L and their cost base. Lets try to do it in a low risk way. What is the lowest risk way for getting to a pilot. You got to have a commitment to take this out to market and when that happens and we see the technology working we will then see a snowball effect.

 

How do I convince my peers to adopt blockchain?

David – First we need to forget the terms DLT and blockchain and instead focus on the business value, the results it will bring to the business and what the savings will be.

Ravir – There are two ways of doing it. First thing the person has to realise what are the strategic aims of that business and the second is what can they do with blockchain? It is recognising that blockchain allows you to start thinking about new products and how you build them.  You can start imaging how you build your policies and change the way you deliver your products to customers. Fundamentally you have to excite those executives and deliver the full benefits this technology can deliver. This technology is transformational and it will deliver the 30 – 50% cost reduction in processing. Whilst on the front end it allows you to do some very exciting stuff on how you build products.

 

Good and Bad Examples of blockchain implementation

David – A bad project is one that didn’t go further than the PoC stage. A PoC was successfully completed, everyone was very excited by it but nothing was planned to what would happen afterwards. No next steps were determined, the project lost momentum and eventually stopped. ChainThat have walked away at numerous occasions from potential projects were they deemed that blockchain wouldn’t add sufficient value in comparison to other more traditional centralised models.

Ranvir – Similarly Blocksure would be approached by companies wanting to do a blockchain project only to realise that a web front end and a database would do a better job than blockchain. Their desire to use blockchain was just for the case of using blockchain instead of understanding the business case and identifying the best technology to meet the requirements of the business case. The key is realising that blockchain isn’t the answer to all problems. The technology has been proven by numerous PoCs and by B3i. It is now a human and a cost of change issue more than anything else.

 

Your Turn!

Ranvir & David share many other interesting points in this podcast including the exciting opportunity of linking the blockchain work the finance industry is doing with the insurance one. If you liked the podcast please do review it on iTunes. If you have any comments, suggestions on how we could make it better please don’t hesitate to add a comment below. If you’d like to ask a question to either David or Ranvir feel free to add a comment below and will get him over to our site to answer your questions.

 


 

ChainThat is an insurance blockchain solutions provider. They work with business leaders across the insurance industry who have a problem extracting business from technology. ChainThat, creates real world applications that deliver on the promise of innovation so that the global insurance market is empowered to move forward, which means they can finally start releasing the value trapped in the chain.
http://www.chainthat.com/

 

Blocksure is a new technology services company delivering blockchain powered solutions to the insurance industry. Their aim is to reduce operational expenditure across the industry and enable new products and distribution models. Blocksure has developed a proof of concept insurance operating system built on blockchain technology. It is a full cycle insurance sales, administration and claims platform.
https://www.blocksure.com/