Swiss Insurer AXA Starts Accepting Bitcoin as Payment
AXA, the second-largest insurer in Europe, has turned out to be the first Switzerland based full-fledged insurance firm to start accepting Bitcoin as payment from its customers. The facility is provided through a partnership with well-known crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse. For almost all products offered by AXA, Bitcoin will be accepted as payment. The only exception will be life insurance products due to regulatory restrictions.
AXA has pointed the expedited digital transformation by the global economy due to Covid-19 pandemic as one of the main reasons for deciding to accept cryptos as mode of payment. Nevertheless, two years back, the insurer has pointed out that it had carried out market research indicating that about a third of respondents in the age group of 18 to 55 already possessed or had shown interest towards digital currencies.
As per Claudia Bienentreu, chief of open innovation at AXA (Switzerland), the support for Bitcoin by AXA is an outcome of rising “demand from its customers for alternative payment solutions, with new technologies playing an ever greater role.” The front end that faces the customer will be quite simple, with easy online transfer carried out against a reference number.
The funds to be paid in Swiss francs will be converted to Bitcoin and displayed to customer. The reference rate will stay valid for a pre-determined time. Within the window period, clients will not face any exchange rate risk and AXA will not levy any additional charges for clients who make payment in the form of Bitcoin instead of the usual fiat currency.
It should be noted that AXA will not hold any Bitcoin, received in the form of payment, on its balance sheets. On the contrary, the Bitcoin will be transferred to cryptocurrency broker Bitcoin Suisse. Even though AXA does not levy any fees for payment in Bitcoins, the end receiver i.e. Bitcoin Suisse applies a charge of 1.75% while calculating Bitcoin/CHF (Swiss Franc) exchange rates for AXA customers.
AXA’s previous venture involving blockchain technology was in 2017 when it became a member of the car documentation platform, which uses blockchain based system to monitor and document the entre life history of vehicles. The insurer also backs the University of Basel’s Blockchain Challenge, where it supports study of smart contracts for application in the insurance sector.