Can Blockchain Reach its Full Potential Without Collaboration? - The Blockchain Summit

Panel: Can Blockchain Reach its Full Potential Without Collaboration?

Ken Marke, Chief Marketing Officer at B3i, spoke at The Blockchain Summit - London on several panels.

Over the course of the panel, Ken responded to questions from host, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, and the audience on the topic of collaboration. Providing insights into the B3i consortium and collaboration between 15 insurance organisations.

Questions and responses are provided verbatim.

Q1: Consortiums from various industries are coming together and are catching the technology vendors unawares. So if consortiums are the way forward, can you share how that has worked for you?

“Yes, I think the first thing I'll say about consortiums is they typically don't work, at least in insurance. And we have built a consortium that has worked.

“It's successful because we've incorporated, and we're building something real. Why don't they work or why have we succeeded where so many others have failed?

“I think one of the issues is that we singularly had a common interest and that was about removing friction in the value chain in a very specific use case in insurance. There's a lot of fat you can remove from that value chain. But why many consortia have failed within the insurance context is because they're seeking their own competitive advantage.

“Whereas within B3i, within this group of insurers and re insurers that are part of our group, we're looking to actually save the market some money, some cost. So hence I think that's the reason why we have been successful.

“I was desperately looking earlier on for a reason why I should say collaboration is not a good idea. It definitely is not a good idea where you are looking for competitive advantage. I mean, Adam challenged me to find a reason and if you are looking for competitive advantage, the last thing you want to do is share it with someone else. Share the benefit with someone else. But I think that's why many of the consortia have failed.”


Q2: Open standards requires an enormous amount of collaboration. How do we see that honestly playing out?

“I'm just going to volunteer, so talking about standards, so we're talking a lot about technology standards and that's beyond me, but I was going to bring in the point about data standards, and how important they are.

“And just to kind of bring it down to Earth a little bit. I mean, when we go out to get an insurance quote we get five quotes and we do the quote five times. And even if you're using an aggregator, you still do it four times. And that's because there is no commonality on the information that the insurer needs to collect from you. Because they're not using common data standards. 

“So something in B3i that we're doing is adopting, as Adam (R3) just said, the ACORD standards, which is an insurance standardised, standardisation of data. Because that's really really important. And if we don't do that, we're just going to end up where we are today, which is really duplicating effort from our customers, whether they are corporate or individual clients.”


Q3: (Audience question) If you begin to put together Telcos, Construction, Insurance, Finance, Energy and Transport together you've got a smart city environment. Are the things that you're doing at the industry at the sector level, likely to help or hinder future collaboration between the sectors?

“Just to pick up on, I mean you were asking I think the question whether that level of collaboration exists today between industries. I'm not sure it does completely, but actually I do hope that in future when we do have the interoperability or we have the common technical or common data standards and you've got a supply chain, let's say for example, oil, you know, all on a blockchain and the insurance blockchain can speak to that blockchain. It will make our life so much easier, just really believing that oil really existed where you say it did.

“I'm sure you can apply it to construction or many, many other things. And that will really oil the wheels and that's no pun intended, but that will really help improve and reduce this friction where we lose so much effort or expend so much effort in losing information.

“And also it reduces the element of fraud as well. That's a big deal for insurers. There's a huge amount lost to fraud. It's unquantifiable because it's fraud. You don't really know it's there. But that would eliminate a huge amount of that. So really kind of hoping that we do start collaborating.

“But I think it's pretty early days because we're all trying to prove the blockchain model works within our own industries. But hopefully at one point, the technical solution will allow us to talk to each other.”


Q4: From a perspective of collaboration, what are the burning priorities to move things forward?

“In the context of insurance, I think the biggest bugbear is this legacy mindset. This idea that insurance is so old and it's been around for a long time. It doesn't need to change.

“It really does need to change.

“And I coin the phrase quite often out of the lab and into the business and at the moment it's great to see insurers experimenting with Blockchain.

“But it's still tucked away in the lab and the business people - the people out there who actually know where the problems lie - they need some kind of education, so they can start thinking of the really good use cases that we can then build.

“They can then go and bang on the door of the labs and say, "Right build this for me." Rather than the lab building something and saying, "Here you go, have a play with that." So I think out of the lab and into the business education would be my message.”


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