Insurance firms in China use blockchain to manage coronavirus-related claims amid the outbreak. English-language local news outlet South China Morning Post reported on Feb. 9 that this month Chinese online mutual aid platform Xiang Hu Bao added the coronavirus to the illnesses eligible for the maximum one-time payout of around $14,300 (100,000 yuan).

Blockchain used for insurance claim processing

Xiang Hu Bao is not an insurance policy, but a blockchain-based collective claim-sharing platform that counts 104 million users. Per the report, blockchain technology is employed by the system to prevent fraud and allow for faster claim processing.

Xiang Hu Bao is owned by Chinese finance giant Ant Financial and uses its mobile payment processing service AliPay, which funds the payouts for coronavirus victims with its own capital. A firm’s spokesman said:

“Xiang Hu Bao has been able to process claims and make payouts to participants quicker, due to the decentralised, trust-free nature of blockchain technology. [...] Claim applicants can submit their supporting documents as evidence while investigation firms can get immediate access to them on the blockchain. All parties involved can see the entire process.”

Blockchain used to reduce paperwork

Also Blue Cross Insurance, owned by the Bank of East Asia is reportedly helping to decrease the bureaucratic impact of the coronavirus outbreak with a medical claims app. The insurance service’s managing director Patrick Wan told South China Morning Post:

“Our blockchain-backed claims service has played a key role during the outbreak of the coronavirus by totally eliminating the paper process and the need for back-and-forth documents delivery to clinics. [...] This really helps to mitigate the risk of infection from face-to-face contact.”

Blue Cross Insurance claims that its platform is capable of managing over 1,000 transactions per second without human involvement. So far, since its launch in April 2019, the medical claims app has on average seen a double-digit monthly policyholder user base growth. Patients using the app can see the result of their claims within a day after the hospital visit.

Blockchain’s relationship with coronavirus

According to the New York Times, 811 people died because of the coronavirus in China and the number of confirmed infections rose to 37,198. An infection of this scale has seen many advocate for the tools provided by the blockchain and cryptocurrency space try to be employed to address the crisis.

Blockchain-enabled applications developer Acoer has created a data visualization tool called HashLog to track the deadly coronavirus that employs the distributed ledger protocol Hedera Hashgraph.

Syren Johnstone —  executive director of the master in laws program at the University of Hong Kong — recently suggested that blockchain and AI-driven strategies should be implemented to better tackle responses to the coronavirus epidemic. Furthermore, blockchain startup Hyperchain announced the launch of a blockchain-based platform to fight against the coronavirus epidemic earlier this month.

The coronavirus also has a direct impact on the cryptocurrency industry, with multiple Asian blockchain events being delayed in response to the outbreak. Also, Hong Kong-based blockchain remittance startup Bitspark has abruptly announced its closure, citing the virus among the reasons.