Blockchain gets fishy: how marine insurance is embracing fintech

Angus Kidman 7 September 2017

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My life plans didn't ever include typing the phrase "marine insurance blockchain".

Indeed, I claim no expertise in marine insurance, which covers both boats and the cargo they carry. But it's a surprisingly big affair. The most recent APRA statistics suggest that premiums for marine insurance in Australia topped $16 million in the first half of the year. And in 2017, where millions of dollars go, blockchain soon follows.

The first rule of blockchain is that if you think you understand it, you don't understand it. Put simply, blockchain allows the secure creation and tracking of transactions across multiple organisations and individuals, in a form that can't be tampered with. That has seen it applied to a huge range of commercial environments, from energy to international money transfers.

Now those crazy marine insurance kids are getting on the blockchain train boat. An industry consortium led by EY and Guardtime has created the world's first marine insurance blocktrain platform. Blockchain will be used to capture information about individual vessels, global risks and exposures, and to integrate that data into policies and contracts.

"This solution is the first to apply blockchain's transparency, security and standardisation to marine insurance and is ready for commercial use," said Jonathan Zhao, EY's Asia-Pacific insurance lead. "We look forward to deploying this technology across the marine insurance industry and are exploring how these findings and insights will be applied to other specialty insurance markets and beyond."

The closest most of us are likely to get to marine insurance is buying insurance for our speedboat . However, given the crucial role that cargo shipping plays in the global economy, it's vital that the insurance system that covers it remains efficient and reliable. Blockchain seems like a useful addition to the menu. Anyone for fish and (silicon) chips?

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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