Oxfam, Etherisc, and Aon Find Success with First Blockchain-Based Agricultural Insurance Policies for Smallholder Farmers in Sri Lanka

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Oxfam in Sri Lanka, the organization working to alleviate poverty, revolutionary Blockchain project Etherisc, an InsurTech startup developing a protocol for decentralized insurance applications and Aon plc, the leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement, and health solutions, have succeeded in the delivery of the first season of their blockchain-based delivery of microinsurance to smallholder paddy field farmers in Sri Lanka.

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“We are proud to have real-world, on-the-ground success from a blockchain solution for microinsurance,” Michiel Berende, the Chief Inclusive Officer at Etherisc, said. “We are delighted with the first phase results and we are excited to drive on and help more farmers.”

Historically, there were major barriers preventing farmers from utilizing insurance, including the lack of affordable and reliable insurance products, a lack of understanding about how insurance would help a farmer survive, and when and how a claim would be paid. This new blockchain technology directly addresses those issues as the insurance process includes automation. This can transform and simplify the claims process so that a farmer does not need to submit a claim and, at the same time, the insurer does not need to send a claims adjuster into the field. In addition, this process results in reduced administration costs and, subsequently, a higher percentage of premiums being used for claims payment and immediate, fully trusted pay-out.

After the coordinated launch earlier this year with 200 farmers enrolled who are at risk of losing their crops due to extreme weather, the system made pay-outs to farmers in this initial operations phase. The companies will now move forward by seeking solutions to some of the challenges identified in the next phase of the project as cropping season starts in November. The main goals of this follow-on phase are to refine the system’s efficiency and scale the number of farmers who will benefit from the microinsurance.

This coordinated effort includes Oxfam in Sri Lanka (OiSL), which has long-standing expertise in agriculture, deep engagement with the local farmer-community, and an understanding of the important role of agricultural insurance. The blockchain solution was tested as a part of OiSL inclusive insurance project. Oxfam in Sri Lanka’s efforts are amplified by Aon’s expertise in reinsurance and global insights, as well as Etherisc’s knowledge in applying blockchain technology to insurance. Sanasa Insurance, Oxfam in Sri Lanka’s partner, also joined the initiative to provide local expertise, networks, and operational execution.

In the first season, the group identified several challenges in the field to be improved on going forward. First, many farmers in the area lack electronic devices and Internet access, meaning the project may look to provide offline solutions and devices through local insurance support from Sanasa to facilitate registration in the group policy. Second, the project may seek to build a network of additional data sources to round out the automated data provided by weather stations. Third, farmers commonly manage transactions with cash or cheques only, which inhibits the process of automated payouts, requiring research of mobile payment options in Sri Lanka.

The project members will all gather at the Decentralized Insurance Conference in Malta on November 5–6 to detail the results of the first season and outline the pathways forward for an enhanced project in its second phase.

International organisation Oxfam, works toward a Sri Lanka where everyone lives in dignity and peace, enjoying prosperity and justice by helping people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters. Oxfam’s mission is to tackle the root causes of poverty and create lasting solutions.

Etherisc has developed a protocol for decentralized insurance apps, creating an alternative to traditional insurance. The company’s mission is to make the purchase and sale of insurance more efficient—reducing operational costs, increasing transparency, and democratizing access to reinsurance investments. Telegram.

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About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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