Alex Tapscott on how the insurance industry can benefit from the technology behind bitcoin

08 Feb 2017

The co-author of Blockchain Revolution gave a talk at the Blockchain conference on how the technology is changing money, business, and the world.

Click here for more information about the event.

Read a text version of the interview here:

"I think the insurance industry is a great example of one where blockchain technology holds lots of promise but also lots of potential peril. The promise of course is that the technology can be used to rapidly reduce the friction cost and doesn't result to a lot of risk in the system making it more efficient and more resilient. At the same time, blockchain technology also lowers the barriers for peer-to-peer collaboration and peer-to-peer business models where many of the functions of intermediaries like insurance companies could potentially no longer be as prized and could eventually be displaced by technology itself or by some new interim.

What is most misunderstood about blockchain technology is that it's primarily about financial services or FinTech. We often hear this association with banking or even insurance for that matter. To be sure, I think that those industries will be impacted in pretty profound ways both positive and potentially negative. But this technology is much bigger than that, in fact, I think it could go as deep as changing the very architecture of the firm, changing our institutions like governments and having a far reach in many different industries.

There are lot of challenges that need to be overcome, but you have to ask yourself, are they implementation challenges or they are reasons that this is a bad idea. I think in almost every instance that the challenges that we talk are implementation challenges, regulatory challenges, technical challenges, policy questions, but also more big societal impacts. What does it mean when technology can replicate a lot of the functions of people in firms, what does that mean for say, the job market? These are things that I think we need to take very seriously, but they're not reasons that blockchain is a bad idea, they're reasons why it's maybe a good idea but it really depends on how we address them.

I think 2017 will be the year of commercialization of blockchain in a few very important industries. In financial services, I think that a lot of clearing and settling will move onto blockchain technology, and the insurance market will begin to see it being used as smart contracting to reduce friction and cost. Maybe we see even some new models of organizing the firm that are more peer-to-peer and less vertically integrated."

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