AXA, Europe’s second largest insurance company, has become the first Swiss insurer to offer its customers the option of paying their bills in bitcoin (BTC), thanks to a partnership with Bitcoin Suisse, a renowned cryptocurrency broker.
Bitcoin payments are accepted for almost all AXA products, with the exception of life insurance, as there are legal barriers for the latter.
AXA cited the accelerated digital transformation of the global economy during the coronavirus pandemic as a key factor in its decision to integrate cryptocurrencies into its daily operations. However, the insurer notes that it conducted market research in 2019 showing that about a third of respondents between the ages of 18 and 55 already own or are interested in owning cryptocurrencies.
According to Claudia Bienentreu, Head of Open Innovation at AXA Switzerland, accepting bitcoin payments is AXA’s response to its customers’ growing demand for alternative payment solutions, with new technologies playing an increasingly important role.
On the customer’s side, the adjustment will be made by a simple online transfer with an identification number: The amount due in Swiss francs is calculated as the equivalent of the amount in bitcoins, and the exchange rate indicated remains valid for a specified period. Customers will not bear exchange rate risk during this period, and AXA will not charge additional fees to customers who choose to pay their bills in bitcoin rather than fiat currency.
AXA itself will not hold the bitcoins it receives through its assets. Instead, bitcoin will fall into the hands of crypto currency broker Bitcoin Suisse. It should be noted that AXA itself does not charge for bitcoin payments, while Bitcoin Switzerland adds its own fee of 1.75% when calculating bitcoin franc exchange rates for AXA customers.
AXA’s previous collaborations with blockchain-based technologies include its 2017 membership in the Vehicle Records Platform, which uses blockchain to track and record the lifecycle of vehicles. The insurer is also a sponsor of the University of Basel’s Challenge, where it is researching the use of smart contracts in the insurance industry.
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