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Big Insurers Are Uniting Behind R3's Blockchain Tech

R3 has scored another win in the insurance sector, giving the startup a wide lead over other distributed ledger technology (DLT) providers in the sector.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, the RiskBlock Alliance, whose members include such insurance heavyweights as Chubb, Marsh and Liberty Mutual, has decided to build its first set of use cases using R3’s Corda platform.

The news comes soon after B3i, the European reinsurance consortium, decided to switch from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda. With the addition of RiskBlock, R3 now counts all the major insurance blockchain consortia as Corda users, including the Insurwave marine insurance platform created by EY and Maersk as well as regional initiatives in India and Italy.  

RiskBlock was officially launched in mid-2017 by The Institutes, an insurance research and education network, but the team behind the DLT consortium has spent at least two years testing enterprise blockchain solutions. Earlier this year, RiskBlock narrowed down its choices to a short list: Quorum (developed by JPMorgan Chase), Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, and Digital Asset.

“We went through an intense and laborious process and finally narrowed it down to two, which were Corda and Digital Asset,” Patrick Schmid, a vice president at RiskBlock, told CoinDesk, adding:

“It was a close race – and we haven’t worked out all the details yet – but we have decided on Corda and we are moving in that direction.”

RiskBlock was a founding member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance and much of the early work, including several proofs-of-concept, was done on a private version of ethereum, the world’s second-largest blockchain. However, the insurance consortium started to change course this year as it received input from member firms and also some of its potential partners.

Privacy – or, rather, the lack thereof in a system forked from a public network – was the dealbreaker for these companies, according to Schmid.

“What we learned from testing ethereum was that our members found huge value in the smart contracts, and found huge value in blockchain-enabled technology. But they were a little bit concerned about data segregation,” he said.

“Even with a private variant of ethereum, their concern really was around data being stored, even if it’s encrypted and hashed, on every node in the system.”

The new RiskBlock applications are proofs of insurance (with the goal of weeding out uninsured motorists); more efficient forms of data sharing when a policyholder first notifies an insurer it will be filing a claim; subrogation (think of when your auto insurance carrier pays you after an accident and then pursues the other driver’s carrier for reimbursement), with a focus on blockchain-based net settlement; and parametric insurance, which is paid out automatically when a triggering event such as a natural catastrophe occurs.

In terms of a timeline, Schmid said, “Everything is in progress now. We anticipate that we’ll have POI and First Notice of Loss fully complete and ready for member testing before the end of summer.”

Insurance and interoperability

Landing RiskBlock is another important validation for R3’s technology at a time when the bank-owned startup is rumored to be struggling financially. The company is set to release the commercial version of its enterprise software next week.

“Over the last few months we have seen several insurers migrate to Corda due to its enhanced privacy and scalability; information is shared on a bi-lateral or multi-lateral basis, meaning parties that are not involved in the transaction will not see it,” said Ryan Rugg, global head of insurance at R3.

“Corda gives insurers the ability to integrate and secure disparate data sources, whilst simultaneously ensuring transparency across an interconnected network of clients, brokers, insurers and other third parties,” he added.

In a sense, B3i’s switch from Hyperledger to Corda made fellow insurance consortium RiskBlock more likely to settle on the R3 platform as well, all else equal.

That’s because, according to Schmid, the potential to “make interoperability an immediate thing” was a big factor in the platform selection process at RiskBlock.

“One of the major catalysts for us to narrow our selection process down to ranking Corda at the top was that it’s potentially also going to be leveraged by European reinsurers in the B3i initiative and by the InsurWave initiative – and some other smaller initiatives,” he said.

B3i, founded by insurance giants Allianz, Aegon and Swiss Re, and supported by AIG and AIA, gave similar reasons as RiskBlock in explaining its switch from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda.

After re-evaluating our criteria around data privacy, developer productivity and interoperability we concluded that Corda is a perfect fit for our insurance use cases and also for our future strategy for an insurance business network,” Markus Tradt, CTO at B3i, told CoinDesk.

Tradt said B3i’s vision goes far beyond single-purpose blockchain deployments for a specific use case and that his consortium is working with partners and third parties for application developments.

Hence, “interoperability is crucial for us,” he said, “To that end, we are actively pursuing collaboration or partnerships with other platforms and initiatives.”

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Insurance Group B3i Endorses R3's Corda Blockchain Platform

The world’s largest blockchain insurance consortium will use R3’s Corda platform to build its upcoming products, the company announced Monday.

The Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative (B3i), the independent company founded by Allianz, Aegon and Swiss Re, and supported by AIG and AIA, will use the platform to advance a prototype reinsurance blockchain, as well as use a smart contracts system to reduce paperwork, according to a press release.

B3i “concluded that the Corda platform offers the best blockchain solution available, providing a solid foundation for B3i to efficiently deliver business value to its clients” after an extensive review of available open-source blockchains, according to the release.

According to the press release, “full integration of Corda nodes” is expected to be enabled “in the professional and compliant IT environments that are used by B3i’s clients.”

R3 – which is its own consortium of banking firms – launched the Corda platform in October 2017 and aims the tech at different types of business entities within the financial industry, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

R3 CTO Richard Brown said in a statement that “we are delighted that B3i has selected Corda as its preferred platform and our engineering team is looking forward to working closely with the excellent team at B3i to bring their innovative solutions to market.”

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B3i Shifts From Blockchain Consortium to Full-Fledged Company

A blockchain consortium backed by a group of global insurance firms has created an independent company with the aim of commercializing some of the solutions it has developed.

B3i is backed by notable firms including giants AIG and AIA as well as founding members like Allianz, Aegon and Swiss Re, among others. The group first debuted in 2016, aiming to develop applications of the tech for the insurance and reinsurance industries, and the transition to a fully-fledged company marks the next step in their work.

In statements, the group positioned the company’s formation in Switzerland – long known as a hub for blockchain companies – as a way to advance the work with additional resources.

“As an independent legal entity with its own capital and intellectual property, B3i Services AG can streamline the development, testing and commercialization of blockchain solutions,” B3i commented last week.

The consortium introduced its first product – a blockchain prototype for property catastrophe excess of loss reinsurance contracts – in 2017, and the new company expects to kick off the first live trades on the platform by the end of the year. It also revealed in the statement that it has several other products in development, though it did not provide further details.

More broadly, B3i Service AG will aim to “create an ecosystem of products and services developed ‘by the market, for the market.'”

The newly incorporated entity was formed by the founders of the original initiative, and Gerhard Lohmann, CFO of reinsurance at Swiss Re, has been selected as to chair the company.

“The transition of B3i from consortium to independent company is a concrete step forward to realizing the enormous potential of blockchain for the insurance industry,” Lohmann said in a statement.

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AIA and AIG Join B3i as Blockchain Consortium Adds 23 Members

Major insurance groups AIG and AIA are among 23 new members of the B3i blockchain insurance consortium.

The new slate of entrants was unveiled earlier today, drawing in members from Asia, the Middle East and North America, among other regions. B3i initially launched in October of last year, backed by a group of notable European-based insurers that included Allianz, Aegon, Swiss Re and more.

All told, the group now counts more than three dozen insurers and reinsurers amongst its ranks.

The companies join just as B3i prepares to begin testing a jointly developed platform focused on catastrophic insurance contracts, a process scheduled to begin later this month. Other projects being pursued by the consortium include a smart contract tool designed to streamline administrative work done by counter-parties to insurance contracts, as well as work that will see consortium members “developing and prototyping further use cases during 2018 for market adoption.”

“In less than a year B3i has become truly global, both in terms of the work we are undertaking and the companies we represent. We look forward to working with the new entrants who will take part in our market testing, and to learning from each other’s expertise and experience,” said Paul Meeusen, ‎head of finance and treasury services for Swiss Re and a co-founder of the consortium.

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‘Big Boys Club’ B3i Starts Testing Blockchain Catastrophe Contracts

So-called ‘Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative’ B3i has announced 23 new members as it prepares to test its prototype.

B3i, which formed last year and consists of high-flying flagship members such as Allianz, Swiss Re and Zurich, aims to disrupt the global insurance industry with the use of Blockchain – or its favored term – so-called Distributed Ledger technology (DLT).

The 23 new signups consist mostly of lesser-known outfits AIA and Chubb among others.

“I am very pleased to welcome 23 new companies to B3i,” Swiss Re director of finance and global business solutions Paul Meeusen said in an accompanying press release.

“In less than a year, B3i has become truly global, both in terms of the work we are undertaking and the companies we represent.”

Similar in tone to the international banking sector’s R3CEV DLT consortium, the insurers are seeking to deploy Blockchain to execute claims contracts more efficiently from start to finish.

“Each participating company will simulate the creation and management of property catastrophe insurance contracts in order to test post placement processes,” the release explains.

“This will apply from the setting up of the contract, through to the automated calculation for payment of claims.”

Having unveiled the prototype last month at a conference in Monte Carlo, testing itself is due to begin, with further use cases to go through development in 2018.

Cointelegraph last reported on the progress of B3i in February, raising questions as to whether such a large ‘Big Boys Club’ of organizations could coordinate to deliver a truly disruptive product.