Insureblocks is a dedicated weekly podcast on blockchain, smart contracts and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the insurance industry. Hosted by Walid Al Saqqaf, this podcast will invite expert speakers from incumbents to the most promising start-ups in London, New York, Zurich and around the world. Insureblocks is the best way to not only understand the basics of blockchain but to also hear about proof of concepts, what insurance companies have done, their learnings and the end results. Whether you are new to or an expert on blockchain and would like to understand the impact it will have on the insurance industry, this is the podcast you'll want to tune into.
Ep.19 – Insurwave: the insurer’s perspective with MS Amlin and XL Catlin
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.
Blockchain in two minutes
Blockchain is a distributed ledger that allows users to share data in real time in a secure and immutable way. This data can be related to assets, for example the location of a vessel, or it can be a smart contract, a piece of code set to execute when a set of specified parameters is fulfilled.
Blockchain has the potential to create trust between parties in the insurance industry and improve risk intelligence, lowering costs and benefiting parties across the insurance value chain.
In the past four years the marine insurance industry has experienced declining performance and increasing combined operating ratios. It has become necessary, therefore, to take a strategic look at the industry and consider how new technologies can improve efficiency. In building Insurwave, both MS Amlin and XL Catlin were willing to take a leadership position in the insurance industry and commit to a vision of how the industry is going to develop.
In an industry not known for embracing change, developing Insurwave came with challenges. Working alongside competitors and completely re-inventing the underwriting process is not something insurance companies have done before. However, every participant was keen to grasp an opportunity to cooperate with representatives across the value chain and consider what each needs out of an insurance transaction to re-imagine the underwriting process.
The low margins plaguing the insurance industry posed an additional challenge. Unlike usual, well defined projects, it is harder to quantify the costs and benefits of investing in innovation. For that reason it was important to have a clear set of goals with Insurwave. One of the main factors Insurwave has been successful is its focus on providing hull and war cover for its pilot with Maersk.
Insurwave allows parties to seamlessly share data between them. By combining blockchain with IoT data, parties have access to real time information. At the moment Insurwave provides over thirty data points per vessel. The aim is to get to fifty. Insurers get more data, get data of different types and get it in real time.
Up until now, insurers traditionally looked backwards to quantify risk. This means the insurance industry has yet to come up with a definitive answer on how to use all this new data but Insurwave opens up a range of new possibilities.
Ep. 127 – Convergence of IT Services & Financial Services – Insights from T-Systems
Gleb Dudka is a Blockchain analyst at T-Systems and author of the Blockchain Infrastructure Thesis. In this podcast we discuss opportunities for financial services to work with IT service provider in securing the Web 3.0 and exposing themselves to numerous revenue opportunities. We also discuss the differences between proof of work and proof of stake and the role T-Systems play in providing public network infrastructure to the Web 3.0.
What is blockchain?
Gleb looks at blockchain from a technical, business and economic standpoint.
From a technical standpoint it’s a combination of three key parts:
* A distributed database that stores information with multiple parties working together on synchronising and keeping the ledger up to date.
* Smart contracts - scripts and if then functions which allow for executable business logic that sits on top of a shared ledger.
* Digital assets – tokens which sit on top of blockchain. They play a critical role in incentivising trust-less parties to synchronise and maintain public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The second dimension or standpoint in which to look at a blockchain is as incentivisation machines. Each blockchain is designed to fulfil a certain goal or a certain value. In order to fulfil that purpose the blockchains rely on some form of infrastructure providers such as miners which need to be rewarded. Incentives are their support the blockchain for it to fulfil its goals.
The opportunities public blockchains have for digital assets and cross company collaboration
In Gleb’s opinion, what makes blockchains really unique is the digital asset layer. Distributed database and smarts contracts aren’t particularly unique to blockchain. The digital asset layer provides the ability to transact value for a trusted digitally scarce asset.
Digital assets enable to bootstrap public blockchain networks by creating incentives for people to participate in these networks. Without these incentives it’s very hard to get people to participate and use a blockchain network. This is a main advantage public blockchains have over private ones as it provides participants with the incentives to join the network and for it to scale.
Gleb believes there is an opportunity for public blockchains to help interconnect private blockchains which effectively sit in different silos. The jury is still out with regards which public blockchain or application specific blockchain could do this whether it’s Ethereum, Polkadot or others.
Gleb believes they are quite interesting from an innovation standpoint. However as most enterprise blockchains only use distributed database and smart contracts without digital assets, it makes very hard to argue what is the benefit of that technology compared to a centralised database. He would recommend that enterprise blockchains need to develop a digital asset strategy to ensure the long term feasibility and return of their initiatives.
Proof of work and proof of stake
Proof of work
Proof of work is a consensus algorithm used to make a public blockchain secure and to ensure that you don’t have situations where double spending is possible. This is achieved by having a href="https://intellipaat.com/blog/tutorial/blockchain-tutorial/what-is-bitcoin-mining/#:~:text=A%20peer%2Dto%2Dpeer%20computer,public%20ledger%20of%20past%20transactions.&text=This%20process%20of%20verifying%20transactions%20in%20called%20mining.
Ep. 126 – AgriLedger – Blockchain within the Agro-Food Industry
Genevieve Leveille, Founder and CEO of AgriLedger, a blockchain solution built on R3’s Corda which has been used to support fruit growers out of Haiti. In this podcast, Genevieve shares with us how their solution enables supply chain through the use of value chain – value transfer and value retention throughout. She also shares how AgriLedger has helped farmers in Haiti get a 750% increase in revenue per kilo of quality mangos sold.
What is blockchain?
For Genevieve, blockchain is an infrastructure technology. Blockchain is a mechanism to allow different parties, with different needs, to collaborate and create information exchange. It’s about capturing data in a fashion that is known to be true at the moment of capture.
Genevieve is interested in the application of blockchain technology for the food industry. She explains that having food poisoning is usually due to the fact that you don’t know where the food came from, if it had the right refrigeration and other factors which blockchain could address.
Challenges of the Agro-Food Industry
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO):
* “An estimated 30% of the food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted somewhere along the food supply chain.”
* the world’s population is predicted to reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and this will require an increase of 70% in food availability.
* “Smallholders provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asian and sub-Saharan Africa.”
At the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a new global challenge for world leaders and individuals from all sectors: create a world where no one is hungry. He emphasized that there is enough food in the world to feed our population, so the challenge comes from making sure that everyone has access to the food they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Ban called this initiative the Zero Hunger Challenge.
The Zero Hunger Challenge has five pillars:
* 100% access to food and nourishment all year round
* Ending stunting among children under two years of age
* Making all food systems more sustainable
* Doubling productivity and income for smallholder farmers
* Reducing food waste and post-harvest losses
In spite of efforts to meet the zero hunger challenge, global hunger has been increasing even before the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations has warned, putting its Zero Hunger 2030 target in doubt.
An annual study estimates almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 – up by 10 million from 2018 and by nearly 60 million in five years according to the latest edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI).Across the globe, the Covid-19 crisis could tip over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020, the report predicts.
According to Oxfam: “COVID-19 is deepening the hunger crisis in the world’s hung...
Ep. 125 – Blockchain supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals
Marianne Schoerling, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Geneva Macro Labs in Switzerland, joins us to discuss how blockchain can support reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Recognising that blockchain is not a panacea to all sustainable development challenges, it is though an important tool to consider when looking at its costs and benefits and potential impact to affect the well-being of communities around the world.
Marianne has a wide range of professional experience including working at the UN Environment Programme at with several NGOs.
What is blockchain?
Marianne has two answers to the question of what is blockchain. A contextual one and a technical one.
From a contextual perspective she would describe blockchain as a chronologically set of arranged digital blocks that will enable the decentralisation of trade. It will allow peer to peer transactions with a reduced need for intermediaries like companies or banks. It entails an entirely new set of preconditions and possibilities for participation and membership in societies and communities.
This is why blockchain can be seen as a social transforming technology because blockchain combines three different aspects:
* Cryptography for account authorisation and automatic execution
* New social pattern for companies, schools, universities, organisations and governments to participate within the societies they represent
From a technical perspective blockchain is a system that enables the addition of data to it without the ability to change or remove previous data within it. This is done through a consensus mechanism between distributed parties that do not necessarily need to trust each other. Proof of work being one of the most famous consensus mechanism.
The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
Marianne introduces the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a global framework designed to be like a roadmap for collective action towards a productive, vibrant and peaceful life for all on a healthy planet.
There are 17 United Nations Sustain Development Goals which range from poverty reduction to healthy lives and wellbeing for all, to economic growth and partnerships. They reflect the fact that actors from different levels from communities, to cities to national governments all have to collaborate to provide transparency and accountability of the 2030 agenda.
Progress to reaching those goals are tracked via 232 indicators and 169 targets via the UN’s SDG Tracker.
There are two goals that dominate our current time period because of their conditioning nature for sustainable development:
* SDG-3: Good health and well-being
* SDG-17: Partnerships for the goals
SDG 17 is the most fundamental goal as it’s a process focused goal as it promotes decentralised development, co-operation, and engagement of all stakeholders.
With just under 10 years left to reach the SGDs and in spite of commitments by nations there are massive global challenges that remain in particular with climate change, migration, technology and trade.
Ep. 124 – Reinsurance accounting blockchain, Ritablock integrates with B3i’s Fluidity platform
Matthias Goessler, CEO of Ritablock and Jean-Pierre Fischer, Markets Director at Ritablock join us in this Insureblocks podcast to discuss their reinsurance accounting blockchain platform called Ritablock and their experience of integrating it into B3i’s recently launched Fluidity Platform.
Matthias has been working in the insurance industry for 25 years and has been Ritablock’s CEO since October 2019.
Jean-Pierre has been working in both the insurance and reinsurance industry for the last 35 years.
What is blockchain?
Jean-Pierre defines blockchain from a non-technical standpoint. For him the block is the digital information that can be reinsurance accounting information or claimed information. That block can be stored in a public blockchain or as in the case of Ritablock stored within a private network on a database.
Challenges of technical accounting and claims data in the insurance industry
The administration process within the insurance industry has a very high admin costs due to too much paper still being used along with PDFs and unstructured files being exchanged along the value chain.
This creates long processing times along with a lack of transparency, inefficiency and inaccuracy. The slow process leads often to inaccuracy in technical and financial accounting, especially for in-house reinsurance within larger groups.
Whilst there are global standards such as ACORD, their implementation on the primary insurance side is very costly leading to a limited adoption of it. This creates problems for reinsurance companies who don’t always get standardised data from the primary insurer.
Jean-Pierre mentioned that there have been studies that showed that by digitising this process and using standardised data formats would lead to a drop of 30-40% of running these admin processes.
Matthias mentioned that one of Ritablock’s clients mentioned that using their system allowed them to run admin processes that typically would take 2 weeks down to a few seconds.
Differences between primary insurer and reinsurer
Jean-Pierre mentioned that the primary insurer isn’t incentivised to send data to a reinsurer in a standardised digital format as the reinsurer will take accounting data in any format today. However, Jean-Pierre believes that as new tech savvy university recruits continue joining primary insurers there will be a push to digitise their processes.
Primary insurers have two issues for sending accounts: (1) they’re not incentivised to implement digital standardised formats and (2) the price of using such standards.
Ritablock’s proposition to primary insurers is for them to send their existing form to Ritablock who will convert it into a digital standardised format when delivering it to the reinsurer. This is done for the primary insurer at a low yearly fee within four digits.
Who is Ritablock?
Ritablock was founded in 2019 by Consurance, a consultancy company and Inveos, a software company.
The idea of Ritablock was born over 4 years ago during a project with a client who wanted to build a flexible interface into their system. When starting this project and developing the software they reached a point where it became too complex due to the need to develop too many interfaces for all th...
Ep. 123 – Chronicled’s MediLedger – a decentralised solution for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Susanne Somerville is the CEO of Chronicled, builders of enterprise blockchain solutions for the life sciences and healthcare industry. In this podcast Susanne introduced us to both Chronicled and to MediLedger whilst sharing some insights on how they are tackling some of the inefficiencies in the US healthcare system.
You will also hear about some of her learnings about the differences of launching blockchain solutions based on regulatory compliance compared to one of ROI.
Susanne’s prior experience is in the life sciences where she ran supply chain for pharmaceutical and biotech companies like Genentech and Hoffman LaRoche.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralised ledger that can keep record of transactions or data exchanges. Because of its decentralised nature, no individual party can change the data of the recorded transactions or the rules that blockchain is enforcing. For Susanne it is the magic in this decentralisation and immutability that makes a lot of things possible for enterprises that weren’t possible before.
What is the state of US healthcare industry and how digitised, connected and standardised is it?
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the US National health spending is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4 percent for 2019-28 and to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028.
In comparison to many other countries the US healthcare system is private, which has spurred on a lot of innovation. Due to that a lot of the innovation was done on an individual level, creating many disparate systems across the country. Susanne’s experience is that US healthcare companies are analogue native instead of digital. A lot is still being done on paper and on fax machines. All of this has contributed to create a disconnected US healthcare industry.
A recent report mentioned that even in exciting technology such as AI (artificial intelligence) there was only a 2% adoption rate of it in the US healthcare industry.
Chronicled & MediLedger
Chronicled is based out of San Francisco and it has been tackling connecting the physical to the digital world since 2014. They were looking at a variety of industry use cases and found a sweet spot in the life sciences. In 2017 they launched the MediLedger project to bring together industry leaders to see how blockchain could play a role in meeting regulations and fixing a lot of the issues in their industry.
Since 2017, the project has morphed into the MediLedger Network. Chronicle is the builder of the software solution and is the custodian of the network. The consortium members of MediLedger run the infrastructure and the solution so that they have control over how the network grows.
Building the MediLedger consortium
Susanne recognises that building the consortium at the beginning wasn’t easy but they did benefit from a couple of key points:
* Credibility: The Chronicled team had both the deep industry expertise and the technological capability
* Regulation: the Drug Supply Chain Security Act that requires an electronic interoperable system by 2023 to manage the track and trace of prescription medicine in the event of suspect product
Ironically a lot of those organisations actuall...
Customer ReviewsSee All
Breath of fresh air
Walid is knowledgeable and gives good insight into a new and promising technology. For anyone who is interested in the insurance industry and is looking for good content then this podcast is for you.
Great podcast series with really interesting people, subject matter experts and influencers. Good quality recording and relaxed delivery. The diversity episode was one of my favourites. Highly recommend it
Always insightful, realistic and pitched at the right level for all to understand.