Alibaba-Founded Insurtech Firm Promotes Blockchain Use in Healthcare Industry

China’s ZhongAn Tech is planning to use blockchain technology to cut risk and costs in healthcare insurance, local news outlet the South China Morning Post reported May 29.

ZhongAn, the technology incubator for ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance, was founded in 2013 by Jack Ma, the chairman of Alibaba Group, Pony Ma Huateng, chairman at Tencent Holdings, and Peter Ma Mingzhe, chairman at Ping An Insurance.

Jack Ma had previously referred to blockchain’s potential for addressing privacy and security issues across all industry sectors, although noting that he thinks Bitcoin (BTC) is a bubble.

ZhongAn Online tech unit chief Chen Wei referred to blockchain as playing a “tremendous role” in changing China’s insurance field, noting that ZhongAn tech already uses blockchain to store insurance policies from ZhongAn Online:

“Insurance is backed by statistics and blockchain will help to connect that massive and varied data. It will be used to manage risk and improve pricing.”

Blockchain tech has often been used in the health insurance industry, as it offers a more effective information distribution between parties, anonymous data pools for research, and new ways to combat the production of counterfeit drugs.

Chen also noted that ZhongAn has entered into data-sharing agreements for record verification and automatic claims with more than 100 hospitals across China:

“Insurance sales used to rely on agents and individual sales people, however younger generations prefer making online purchases. Insurance clients no longer need to file paper documents as proof, instead they can just say when and which hospital they attended.”

According to Chen, ZhongAn Tech is currently working with Shanghai’s insurance regulatory arm on building a blockchain reinsurance platform.

The South China Morning Post notes that China has added blockchain into is 13th Five-Year-Plan, which lays out development plans for the country from 2016-2020. More recently, China’s president Xi Jinping praised blockchain during a speech at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, noting that it is a part of a new technological revolution.

Although the Chinese government has shown a bullish attitude towards blockchain, they have been less welcoming to cryptocurrencies. The government imposed a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the fall of last year, a January ban of “exchange-like services,” and a February ban of foreign exchanges.

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