Alibaba-Founded Zhongan To Start Processing Health Insurance Using Blockchain

Zhongan, a Chinese online company a founded by Alibaba has launched plans to apply blockchain technology in the insurance industry in China. The company will be launching the use of blockchain to reduce risks and costs in healthcare insurance.

ZhongAn is the technology incubator of ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance and was jointly started by Pony Ma Huateng, the chairman of Tencent Holdings, Jack Ma, the chairman of Alibaba Group and Peter Ma Mingzhe, the chairman of Ping An Insurance.

The potential of blockchain technology

Recently, Jack Ma, while speaking at 2nd World Intelligence Conference threw his weight behind blockchain technology saying the technology is not a bubble as many argue. According to Ma, the technology has a lot of potential to solve many issues surrounding security and data privacy at different i.e. individuals, corporations and governments. Ma added that one of the main issues that Alibaba takes into consideration.

According to Ma, a lot of the attention that blockchain has received has been from speculators who see as a means of minting money. On his part, Chen Wei, the chief of ZhongAn Online tech unit said blockchainn technology is playing a big role in changing the country’s insurance sector. He said the company is already using blockchain technology to store insurance policies.

Chen added that the startup is currently working with the insurance regulatory bureau in Shanghai to build a reinsurance platform that is based on blockchain technology. The platform will be used to improve security of re-insured policies. Chen says the company is working on combining blockchain technology with real life scenarios.

The role of blockchain to the health sector

The role and potential of blockchain in the health sector has been highlighted several times, with several startups emerging in 2018. Among other roles, blockchain technology is known to offer effective distribution of information among parties that are involved, improved security, offering new ways of new ways to fight counterfeit drugs and offering an anonymized pool of data for research companies.

ZhongAn has entered into data-sharing agreements with over 100 hospitals in China. The agreements involve verification of records and processing automatic claims. Chen says initially, insurance sales used to largely depend on sales people and agents. This has since changes as the young generation prefer making purchases online. Insurance companies no longer need papers from clients as proof. Instead clients only need to say the hospital they attended.

Blockchain has been made part of China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan, which is the country’s master plan for development between 2016 and 2020. In a speech during at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese president Xi Jinping praised saying that it is part of the new technological revolution.

Although China has been bullish towards blockchain, the country has been harsh and unwelcoming to cryptocurrencies. The Chinese government recently banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) and all activities related to digital currencies including their trade and exchange.

The most notable application of blockchain technology has been in cryprocurrencies where it is used to record and verify transaction data using a network of computers as opposed to a centralized authority.

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