Last week, Facebook announced plans for its own cryptocurrency called Libra. First, let me define cryptocurrency:
“Cryptocurrency is a digital currency built with cryptographic protocols that make transactions secure and difficult to fake. The most important feature of a cryptocurrency is that it is not controlled by any central authority: the decentralized nature of blockchain makes cryptocurrency theoretically immune to the old ways of government control and interference. Cryptocurrencies make it easier to conduct any transactions, for transfers are simplified through use of public and private keys for security and privacy purposes. These transfers can be done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by traditional financial institutions.” - Cointelegraph
Facebook wants to use its platforms of Messenger and WhatsApp to provide those who use these platforms a “stablecoin,” according to Marketwatch. Almost immediately, public pushback began to come from regulatory firms around the world.
We could do a whole series on the pros and cons of digital currency. Today, however, I want to look at the current and near-future state in the claims industry on the payment of benefits electronically. The actual use of cryptocurrency in our industry is a far-off reality. As we see the world grappling with how cryptocurrency will work, how it will be regulated and stabilized in general, we have also seen significant changes in electronic payment options within the claims management space. Over the last few years there has been a greater push to move to more efficient, convenient and secure methods for benefit payments, especially in the area of workers’ compensation. For instance, at Sedgwick some of the innovations we have made or are making in the way payment is transferred include:
- Virtual credit card payments
- Electronic funds transfers and direct deposit
- Coming this year, new digital payments to mobile devices
Our industry will continue to evolve. However, we are traditionally a more cautious group and will carefully evaluate how the practices we adopt impact privacy and security of personal data as a top priority. I believe we are doing amazing things that five years ago seemed very futuristic. The ability to have funds in someone’s bank account almost instantly is already making a difference in getting people back to living their lives as they expect regardless of injury, loss or duration of time away from work.
We will continue to monitor the evolving world of cryptocurrency and other forms of payment that come into our ever-changing landscape, considering how they can be implemented to improve consumer experience and outcomes for those dependent on us in times of need. But behind it all, we will stay focused on what really matters – the people impacted by the work we do, and the ways we can show them that caring counts.