AXA, the second largest insurance company in Europe, has become the first global insurer in Switzerland to offer its clients the option to pay their bills using Bitcoin (BTC), with the help of a partnership with the popular cryptocurrency broker Bitcoin Suisse.
Bitcoin payment will be accepted for almost all AXA products, except for life insurance due to the latter’s regulatory barriers.
AXA has categorized the accelerating digital transformation of the global economy during the Coronavirus pandemic as a major factor in choosing to integrate cryptocurrency into everyday operations. Back in 2019, the insurance company noted that it had conducted market research that showed that about a third of respondents between the ages of 18 and 55 already own or are interested in the cryptocurrency.
According to Claudia Pinentro, Head of Open Innovation at AXA in Switzerland, accepting bitcoin payments is “AXA’s response to growing customer demand for alternative payment solutions, as new technologies play an increasingly important role.”
The setup on the client side will be a simple online translation with a reference number: the amount owed is calculated in Swiss francs against the corresponding amount in bitcoins, and the specified exchange rate remains valid for a specified period of time. During this time window, customers will not be exposed to exchange rate risk and AXA does not charge any additional fees for customers who prefer to pay their bills in bitcoin rather than cash.
AXA itself does not want to receive bitcoins on its balance sheet. Instead, Bitcoin will get into the hands of the Bitcoin Suisse cryptocurrency broker. Moreover, AXA itself does not charge fees for Bitcoin payments, but Bitcoin Suisse takes its 1.75% fee when calculating Bitcoin / CHF exchange rates for AXA clients.
AXA’s previous commitment to blockchain technology includes membership in an auto file platform since 2017, which uses the blockchain to track and record vehicle life cycles. The insurer is also sponsoring the Blockchain Challenge for the University of Basel, supporting research on the use of smart contracts in the insurance industry.