Insurance - Integrating and transitioning to Blockchain

Here at ChainThat we are, even if we do say so, very comfortable with building DLT applications to solve real business operations issues for the insurance sector.  We’ve cracked the challenges around rapidly building these distributed ledger applications quickly and in a way that allows us to reuse and extend capability from our Insurance Blockchain Framework (CT-IBF) and deploy them and maintain them onto a business network for our clients.   After all, to date, we have done this on four different DLT platforms and we started our journey by proving to ourselves that we could engineer real business solutions on these technologies and therefore that we could see how to solve our clients business problems.  Right now, we are at the forefront of DLT developments and are now using Corda 3.1 and R3 Enterprise Corda releases that provides the engine beneath CT-IBF. 

But getting a business application into business use is not just about the exciting DLT bit.  We have been clear, again from the outset, that the real challenge is about integration with customers existing systems and data.  We demonstrate our applications using a User Interface so that everyone can see what happens.  In production, yes, some work will be done like this with an underwriter or claims handler using an ‘app’ to interrogate the progress of their work with other counterparties.  But for the most part, we expect the ‘heavy lifting’ of sharing information, validating and processing it before passing it onto someone else to happen very much behind the scenes with a broker or insurer’s systems directly interacting with the DLT platform.  The human interventions should be limited to the smart interventions when real decisions need to be made or complex issues need to be resolved between the trading parties.  We might show every step of the process between parties in our videos but in practice the DLT should be quietly working away behind the scenes.  So that means we will be integrating the DLT platforms with customer systems.  And that’s the challenge written large - ‘Integration’.

Integration between systems is the absolute bane of the software engineer’s world.  It’s hard to do when you need to link to many and old counterparty systems and therefore it takes time and gets expensive.  Indeed, there is only one scarier word that we know of and that’s ‘Transition’; getting from where we are now (i.e. not connected) to where we want to be (i.e. connected).  So, there you have it.  This is what we are thinking about and working on right now; Integration and Transition. 

In fact, we have been working on this for quite a long time.  The first client project we did back in 2016 not only showed how a DLT could be used to change and improve the insurance processes but that it could ingest and output data in a form (ACORD XML messages) that could be used by existing insurance platforms.  We have been members of ACORD since because we firmly believe in the need for data standards that facilitate the passing of information between trading counterparties. 

Since 2016 we have been working on our end target of published APIs that allow system to system interaction.  We already know these will provide a much richer capability to the DLT participants to use and work with these systems that they can with basic (electronic) messaging approaches.  But it’s also clear that this doesn’t happen in one step.  So we have been designing adoption (transition) approaches that will allow DLT participants to shift in smart, incremental steps from their existing ways of communication with trading counterparties (e.g. email and documents or electronic messages) to the distributed coordination model powered by DLTs. 

Indeed, integration goes deeper than this.  There will be a need to plug different DLT applications together and do so in a way that is software supplier/vendor independent.  Again, we are already designing our ‘apps’ using CT-IBF and Corda to be sympathetic to this too.   

To help accelerate this integration and to provide our clients with certainty around the transition to DLT based solutions we have partnered with Send Technology.  This allows our framework to provide full Acord certified gateway capabilities along with data pipeline transformation and enrichment for a full suite of integration points across multiple systems.  By providing clients with a staged transition with routing logic external to current systems we are lowering the barrier for adoption for insurance companies so that they can realise the promise of innovation.


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Greg Phitidis