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A Possible Decentralized Way Forward for Self-Driving Car Safety

Blockchain could be the solution to the challenges in front of driver-less cars.

Significant usage and presence of Autonomous vehicles (AV) or self-driving cars is coming in the near future. With the possession of the potential to revolutionize the transportation sector, there comes a lot of scope with the prevalent usage of self-driving cars.

However, it would be imprudent to think that the existing Artificial Intelligence and machine learning has been developed to the extent that AV can be deployed on the roads without any safety hindrances. Although there exist technologically updated sensors and cameras in self-driving cars to prevent accidents, it has not evolved enough for mass consumption.

Where are self-driving cars going wrong?

Although not directly, blockchain possesses the ability to increase the safety aspect of self-driving cars. AVs use big data which is in the form of transactions that have to be thoroughly examined, analyzed and interpreted which is the entire premise of their functioning. The mere existence of such data makes it prone to cyber hacking.

In the conventional usage of self-driving cars, information such as user name, address, pick up and drop off points, are used which could drive hackers to break into the system, thereby gaining access to it. There also exists a possibility of terror-based cyber attacks on these cars which could cause large-scale catastrophe, especially when the cars are designed to be controlled by a centralized body. This issue is something which even something as developed as AI cannot prevent from happening. Apart from this, there always exists a threat of a system breakdown triggered by connectivity issues that could potentially cause many accidents.

Is decentralization the savior?

The integration of blockchain technology into self-driving cars seemingly addresses a lot of problems. Blockchain ensures transparency and accuracy of transmission of data, which can drastically reduce the number of accidents. The decentralized ledger can verify the level of accuracy of data that the AV obtains, thereby removing any room for error. This data will also be stored securely in the blockchain which will prevent any manipulation of transmission between the parts of the car. Given its immutable nature, it becomes very difficult for anyone to hack all computers associated with the blockchain technology. In addition, the integration of blockchain technology would mean that the chances of a system failure or collapse is minimal as connectivity would not be an issue.

Now coming to passenger data, highly confidential user data will be stored in the secure ledger of blockchain, which will make it impossible for hackers to gain access to their personal data and use it against them. Thus any misuse of information can be successfully averted. Moreover, smart contracts would ensure that the exchanging, securing and confirmation of data related to payments and transactions is a smooth process. The decentralized technology could also solve any disputes that arise in terms of payment as taxi drivers’ financial records will be stored and can be tracked. Thus something like e-wallets would keep a user’s transaction data safe and reliable.

Blockchain can pace the self-driving cars to advance to their level 5 autonomous stage. Its timestamp feature combined with GPS will be recorded for later analysis. This data will be analyzed by manufacturers and application developers to enhance road safety while providing apt services. Manufacturers, consumers and application developers will be able to use this data to study traffic patterns and risk assessment for enhanced safety measures and better services.

Blockchain technology will particularly enhance connectivity between the car and the controller. Say, for instance, it will enhance the car’s independence and ability to work without the driver — to dodge traffic without the need for him/her to apply brakes and monitor control. The integration of blockchain to self-driving cars, although unprecedented, poses too many advantages for it to not be in the picture at all.

First blockchain-powered car announced: digital car maintenance book, anti-theft system based on private keys, transparent supply chain, automatic insurance claims … real adoption is happening: https://t.co/aTjCmPOQ5N @avtovaz_news #lada #bitcoin #crypto #blockchain

— Martin Mikeln (@mikeln_martin) April 1, 2019

As reported in 2018, General Motors (GM) filed a patent application to advance the use-case of blockchain beyond the financial sector to autonomous and non-autonomous vehicle technologies. The patent shed light on the potential of the technology to manage interoperable data systems in the driverless vehicles.

Blockchain is increasingly making an impression within the automotive industry in general. Previously, German insurance group Allianz and Deutsche Bank partnered with Berlin-based car exchange Auto1 as the auto industry knocked the doors of blockchain. Moreover, in 2018, a consortium of the world’s largest car producers (BMW, General Motors, Ford, Renault) and technology startups launched the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative to explore the potential of blockchain in mobility. MOBI was also aimed at examining the prospects of autonomous cars and ride sharing.

The future

The integration of blockchain technology to apply the principle of peer-to-peer value exchange will allow the physical transport in a driver-less car, in a secure cashless way. Apart from this, monopolistic domination of this sector could be potentially avoided by companies such as Tesla, Uber etc. A decentralized network, here known as Decentralized Autonomous Vehicles (DAV) would mean any company, large or small, can affiliate their solutions without having to raise the level of funding of the aforementioned companies.

This is particularly important, considering the size of the sector, accumulation of all aspects of an AV under one company is not practically beneficial. Furthermore, the involvement of more number of companies making significant contributions increases the potential avenues for a big breakthrough. What this essentially means is that no two companies will compete against each other and there will not be the development of parallel infrastructures. Instead, the various companies will work together and come up with the best possible solutions for all aspects of the driver-less car while giving more participants control over the direction of innovation, thereby rising in prominence. Companies will not have to invest their funds for aspects such as fleet but concentrate on the more significant aspects. With blockchain technology storing and securing the data, its transmission between the various parts of the driver-less car becomes an easier endeavor, and mass usage of AV will come a step closer to reality.

John Frazer, an Ethereum Foundation veteran who is now involved as CCO of the Decentralized Autonomous Vehicles Foundation said,

“The DAV protocol refers to a set of interconnected systems that create an open-source transportation infrastructure. The entire network is predicated on these protocols, making it highly scalable and ensuring it has no single point of failure. By decentralizing protocols around communication and transactions and open sourcing its technology stack, DAV fosters cooperation in an otherwise severely fragmented industry. Access to the DAV Network is permissionless; new players can enter the market and quickly scale up their participation in the transportation economy.”

With the rapid involvement of the transport sector in our everyday lives, mass usage of self-driving cars is no more practically unfeasible. This coupled with the already evolving blockchain technology will be the icing on the cake. The mutual benefit is technological development and advancement as a whole. But the most important obstacle that blockchain associated self-driving cars will have to overcome is the traditional mindset of people and their uncertainty regarding the rapidly developing technology. The day we see self-driving cars running on the road isn’t far away, and hopefully, blockchain technology will be able to provide the infrastructure in the coming years to develop a safe, secure and economical solution and make sure that that day becomes a sooner reality.

 

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Blockchain-Based InsurTech Gains Traction

Blockchain-Based InsurTech Gains Traction

More insurers are joining the cryptocurrency industry through blockchain-based insurtech startup B3i in an ongoing funding round, according to news outlet Tokenpost.

B3i started out as a consortium of five insurers and reinsurers to include Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re, and Zurich, established to create value for the re/insurance industry through distributed ledger technology. In its latest funding round, it added three new insurers and reinsurers, thereby expanding its shareholders to 16, which includes some of the top insurance companies from across Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Chairman of B3i and Group head of business transformation at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd, Antony Elliot said B3i community and network spans over 40 companies who represent “over half of the world’s reinsurance premium and major primary insurers”, thereby showing a significant interest from the insurance world.

The company seems to be living up to its expectation of building a community of shareholders who will drive value in the blockchain-insurance niche. “Following incorporation, B3i will grow its community of shareholders, partners, and customers and create an ecosystem of products and services developed by the market, for the market”, according to its website.

The company continues to experience funding success following its USD 6.35 million raise in March 2018 after its incorporation. As the consortium targets Q4 for the release of their product, it plans to grow the community even further. Overall, the company seemed pleased with the achievements so far, as Antony expressed:

“We are pleased to have strong ongoing financial and strategic support from the insurance industry. the company looks forward to addressing critical industry needs.”

Blockchain-based insurance has been identified as one of the five major tech trends that will reshape the insurance industry, as an EY report finds that:

“FinTech and InsurTechs have made significant inroads by designing powerful but focused applications that solve specific problems and deliver high-quality and intuitive digital experiences.”

As insurtech and blockchain threaten legacy insurance systems, “tomorrow’s insurance leaders must prepare for the adoption of blockchain and big data…”, the report suggested.

In December last year, US-based insurance company State Farm began a blockchain trial to settle insurance related cases aimed at streamlining the manual process of subrogation. Also, in Zimbabwe, an official of the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) recommended blockchain technology as an industry solution to failing insurance companies.

Bitcoin News recently reported how ignorance is one of the major hindrances to blockchain and cryptocurrency-related insurance adoption, and further heightened by the level of risk exposure in the industry, only a few insurers are willing to provide their services to crypto-related businesses. Further, a value in flight is expected to be a focal point for companies willing to adopt insurance, as other aspects may prove useful in the long run.

However, the increasing involvement from insurance companies seems to be encouraging. Perhaps this alongside other blockchain driven insurance startups may change the scape of insurance in the emerging digital asset class and its underpinning technology.

 

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Bitcoin Custodians with $12 Billion Assets Secures Lloyds Insurance

Lloyds of London, the world’s leading insurance market providing specialist insurance services to businesses in over 200 countries and territories, has moved into underwriting crypto with a new account through its business syndication.

UK underwriter Lloyds, which was established in 1765 when button maker John Taylor and iron dealer Samson Lloyd first set up a business together, has added another page to its long history through its connection with South Dakota registered Kingdom Trust, a company which provides customized and innovative digital currency custody solutions for institutional clients.

The trend is clearly changing with more insurers considering providing services to cover custodied digital assets, with AIG, XL Catlin, Chubb and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance all looking at this insurance sector as cryptocurrency grows in stature and popularity.

Until now insurance companies have very much stood back from the industry and some have not disclosed whether they are actually covering institutional assets such as cryptocurrency, due to the risk of compromised client accounts due to fraud and technical errors. Despite such risks, the sector is opening up.

“Insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity,” said Christian Weishuber, a spokesman for Allianz, who offer individual coverage for digital-coin theft. “Digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent on the real economy and we are exploring product and coverage options in this area.”

Its reported that Kingdom Trust, who has USD 12 billion in assets, secured the account due to the company’s cold storage protocol with the client’s digital currency stored offline. The broker who secured the account, Illinois-based Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage (SDBIC), says that Kingdom Trust’s level of security earned them a “drastic discount”.

SDBIC president Jerry Pluard suggests that Lloyds are comfortable with the direction it is moving in with this account and that more syndicates are looking at crypto. He commented:

“About ten syndicates in Lloyds have indicated a willingness and are somewhat active in evaluating crypto exposures… Of those ten, I would say there are five that have the level of expertise that allows them to be comfortable enough to do the analysis and underwriting of the risk, and then the other five will follow on with those leads in writing exposure.”

Kingdom trust reportedly stores 30 different digital assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and ZCash.

 

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Allianz, Deutsche Bank Create New Initiative as Auto Industry Goes Blockchain

German insurance group Allianz and Deutsche Bank have partnered with Berlin-based car exchange Auto1 to create ‘Auto 1 Fintech’ to offer auto financing using blockchain.

The new company plans to offer insurance products and loan refinancing for dealerships that buy their cars from Auto1, a company which claims to offers premium partners more than 40,000 inspected used cars with more than 3,000 additional cars coming online each day.

Backed by Softcorp group, the loan payment and refinancing confirmations will be recorded on a blockchain, allowing dealerships to immediately refinance their purchases, saving two weeks using their current paper methods.

Auto1 hopes that the new blockchain platform will help the company diversify its offerings and promote customer loyalty. CEO Hakan Koc suggests that the new process is “… freeing capital and our customers are more liquid as a result. It’s a win-win”.

Auto1 is hoping to become Germany’s major used car platform, and also expand in other EU countries such as France and Poland later this year. Earlier this year, SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested EUR 460 million (USD 540 million) in Auto1, valuing the company at about EUR 2.9 billion (USD 3.4 billion).

Blockchain is increasingly making an impression with an apparent myriad of applications within the automotive industry. US carmaker Ford earlier received a patent for its Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass System (CMMP) designed to evaluate driver behavior and to improve coordination by drivers on the road by communicating with each other aided by blockchain technology.

The company, carVertical, has developed a platform for used car history reports enabling users to verify details of a car’s past before making a purchase. The autonomous car industry, once thought of as futuristic, is now increasingly looking to blockchain solutions. Apps preventing congestion by updating routes and feeding data to third parties to increase response time to emergency services are just some of the applications created through blockchain the industry today.

Daimler AG, the auto giant behind Mercedes-Benz, launched a blockchain-based program to reward eco-friendly driving. Drivers who practice environmentally-friendly driving habits will receive MobiCoins, which they can then exchange for VIP tickets to events and other rewards, according to Cointelegraph.

 

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