What if you didn’t have to lift a finger to file a claim when you visit the doctor or dentist? Or if you could easily get reimbursed for a missed meeting when a flight was delayed? OneConnect, the FinTech and blockchain arm of Ping An, China’s largest insurance company, is on it—while trying to further its advances into the AI and blockchain space.
Earlier today, Pig An, the worlds' 10th largest public company (according to Forbes,) announced a partnership with SingularityNET, one of the hotshots in the AI space. Led by Ben Goertzel, who’s something of a rock star in artificial intelligence, the Hong Kong-based company is working on building an “AI marketplace,” which sells a variety of agent-based services, delivered via smart contracts on its Ethereum blockchain. (It also built the world’s first “blockchain robot” Sophia TX.) ‘
“SingularityNET and Ping An [will] collaborate across multiple industries and initiatives in the future,” said Goertzel, adding that the collaboration will contribute Singularity NET’s Optical Character Recognition, Cross Validation and model training, to the Ping An company AI-based services.
It’s a big deal for the startup since Ping An is one of China’s, and the world's, biggest companies, straddling banking, financial services, real estate and healthcare, in addition to insurance.
Access to those lines of business could be a great testing ground for SingularityNET, which has raised over $36 million thus far. The company is trying to create an open marketplace where developers can create and sell access to their AI tools and services.
Ping An recently acquired Shanghai-based Lufax, a peer-to-peer lending platform. It’s also been working on unstaffed clinics medical clinics that use AI. Such clinics are already operational in eight Chinese cities.
The OneConnect unit, meanwhile, runs many blockchain initiatives, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and biometrics. It provides solutions for over a thousand small and medium-sized businesses and banks in China.
Six years ago, in partnership with Tencent and Alibaba, Ping An launched Zhong An, China’s first digital insurer. Now is a very good time to be an insurance provider in China, just 8 percent of China’s 1.4 billion population have life insurance but it’s still the world’s second biggest market, and the Chinese insurance sector has been growing at around 18 per cent for the past 10 years.
Outside of China, the insurance sector will be watching Ping An’s experiments with great interest. In countries such as the UK, the insurance business is looking to inject some tech savviness of its own, profits, generally, are falling.
“New protection policies have fallen by one million [policies] from 2014-2017 so it will be interesting to see if we see a trend reversal in UK, where technologies like blockchain have the potential to make it easier, not harder, for life insurance to be taken out by users,” said Lewis Harland, an analyst at ID Theory investment fund.
Sooni-sh then, you might be able to get the blockchain to Ping An insurance claim over. Neat.