Blockchain and Coronavirus: Streamlining Insurance Claims with Blockchain

As states scramble to effectively contain the Coronavirus outbreak, they are beginning to employ blockchain technology, to streamline bureaucratic processes and ensure that people receive the urgent healthcare that they need – swiftly and efficiently.

In the past month, Coronavirus cases have skyrocketed across the world and sent populations into a frenzy. The pandemic has disrupted multiple industries and caused the Dow Jones to plummet.

With tens of thousands of Covid-19 cases in mainland China, the nation is leading blockchain-based experiments to improve their healthcare services and control the rapidly escalating situation. Here’s how blockchain can help:

Fast Tracking Insurance Claims

With such massive numbers of people seeking medical attention for coronavirus, insurance firms in China are attempting to employ tech to make the industry more efficient. This means fast-tracking insurance claims so that people receive uninterrupted healthcare of the highest standard.

Last month, the South China Morning Post reported that the blockchain-based online mutual aid platform, Xiang Hu Bao, added coronavirus to the list of illnesses eligible for a claim, with a maximum one-owned by time payout of 100,000 yuan ($14,000).

Owned by Ant Financial, an Alibaba Group affiliate, the platform is not an insurance service but “a collective claims-sharing mechanism” with over 104 million members who can take advantage of the basic healthcare plan that it provides. The coronavirus payout is backed by Ant Financials’ own fund. Apart from this, the platform’s healthcare plan offers a 300,000-yuan maximum payout for over 100 other critical illnesses.

Xiang Hu Bao uses blockchain tech to speed up the processing of insurance claims. The decentralized and trust-free nature of blockchain not only helps with quicker payouts (a dire need during a medical crisis), but also avoid instances of fraud.

Blockchain can help with instant verification of the applicant’s identification and supporting documents, making the process smoother and transparent for all parties involved.

Halting Further Spread of Coronavirus

Most participants of the Xiang Hu Bao platform belong to China’s lower cities and rural areas and often do not have access to traditional insurance products.

Since this platform is easily accessible over Alipay, the predominant Chinese mobile payments app, the claims process eliminates all the hardships of traditional channels. It removes the need for physical delivery of hard copy (paper) documents to medical centers.

Xiang Hu Bao is not the only blockchain-based product in the insurance sector. Blue Cross Insurance – an entity of Bank of East Asia – is using blockchain tech to reduce the time spent on paperwork and verification of data. With resources being stretched thin, any reduction in administrative work can help medical personnel provide better services.

“This really helps to mitigate the risk of infection from face-to-face contact,” said the managing director of the company, Patrick Wan.

Coronavirus: Impact on the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Space

As CNZ has been covering over the past couple of months, coronavirus has had a direct impact on the cryptocurrency industry.

For one, it has resulted in the cancellation of a number of major blockchain conferences, as a safety measure to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

Secondly, since the epicenter of the illness lies in China, which is also arguably the largest blockchain and crypto market in the world, blockchain adoption seems to come to a (hopefully temporary) stagnation.

For instance, Bitspark – a Hong Kong-based blockchain startup that provided remittances – closed its doors on March 4, citing coronavirus as one of the main reasons that exacerbated its issues and drove it to stop business.

Bitspark Closed
(Source: Bitspark)

Additionally, governments have had to prioritize their resources and reallocate them to fight coronavirus. This has resulted in a postponement of other projects, such as the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) CBDC initiative.

Last week, Chinese newspaper Global Times reported that the CBDC pilot program – called the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) – had been put on a hold as policymakers, research staff, and technological talent were being affected by coronavirus. However, sources confirmed that despite the lag, the project remained scheduled for its second phase later this year.

Mahima Duggal

Mahima Duggal has completed her MA in International Security from the University of Warwick (UK) with distinction. She also holds a BSc (2:1 Honours) in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She is a trained journalist who has completed an undergraduate degree in journalism and public relations from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Mahima's research interests involve technology, cyber security, human rights and international development. She follows all things crypto and strongly promotes the use of blockchain technology for social change.

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