On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Commerce issued directions on how to control the Coronavirus at work. One of the recommendations was to encourage card and mobile payments. At the same time, Ant Financial the owner of Alipay has a blockchain-based mutual aid platform Xiang Hu Bao which provides health payouts for 100 types of critical illnesses. Ant Financial has added the Coronavirus, and will cover this illness out of its own funds, according to the South China Morning Post.
Ant Financial’s mutual aid platform
We’ve previously written about Ant Financial’s mutual aid blockchain platform Xiang Hu Bao. It doesn’t require upfront financial payments, covers 100 critical illnesses, and has more than 100 million members. While it’s not allowed to claim it’s an insurance platform, it is similar to old fashioned mutual insurance where the risk is spread amongst the members. Because people contribute funds depending on claims, initially, Ant capped the member exposure in 2019 to 188 RMB ($26). Actual payouts for 2019 were 29 RMB ($4.06) [updated from estimate of 30 RMB], but there is no cap for 2020.
The South China Morning Post, owned by Ant affiliate Alibaba, says that Ant Financial added the Coronavirus as an illness eligible for a maximum one-time payout of 100,000 RMB (US$14,320). The app is available on Ant’s mobile payment service Alipay and speeds up settlement.
Other members will not fund these payouts, but instead, Ant Financial will foot the bill itself. However, the medical and health care costs of treatment for this outbreak are covered in full by the government scheme. So the payout will be linked to “other hardships linked with the illness.” Ant Financial clarified to Ledger Insights that it relates to members who pass away as a result of the virus.
On the one hand, this looks like a risky and generous commitment by Ant. But as a result of the offer, one might expect a huge number of people to sign up for the Xiang Hu Bao platform.
“Xiang Hu Bao has been able to process claims and make payouts to participants quicker, due to the decentralised, trust-free nature of blockchain technology,” an Ant Financial spokesman told the South China Morning Post. “Claim applicants can submit their supporting documents as evidence while investigation firms can get immediate access to them on the blockchain. All parties involved can see the entire process.”
In Hong Kong, Blue Cross (Asia-Pacific) Insurance is also using blockchain for Coronavirus claims processing.
Ministry of Commerce directions
Following the Coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government extended the Chinese New Year. As people return to work, the Ministry of Commerce published a document providing guidelines for enterprises. It covers detecting the virus in employees and customers as well as disinfection. The publication encourages the use of non-cash payments, which minimize physical contact. It also outlawed driving up prices and hoarding and gatherings such as exhibitions. A Google Translate version of the document is included below.
Ministry of Commerce notice:
Provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, cities with separate plans, and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps departments in charge of commerce, health and health:
At present, it is in the critical period of prevention and control of pneumonia epidemic of new type of coronavirus infection . The Spring Festival holiday is prolonged, and personnel return to the city are multiple factors. Demand for daily necessities continues to increase. The task of ensuring market supply is even more difficult. complex. In order to ensure the normal operation of life service enterprises (the key areas are retail and catering), maintain good social order, and protect the daily life needs of the people, the work related to epidemic prevention and control of life service enterprises is now as follows:
- First, attach great importance to epidemic prevention and control. Life service enterprises bear the heavy responsibility of protecting the daily needs of the people, which is related to people’s livelihood and has a heavy responsibility. Due to the densely-populated business sites, it is easy to become a high-risk place for virus transmission, and the epidemic prevention and control work is particularly important. All localities should further raise awareness, resolutely integrate thinking and actions into the decision-making and deployment of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, and make the epidemic prevention and control of living service enterprises an important task.
- Identify key areas and links for epidemic prevention and control . All localities should clarify the main responsibilities of enterprises, guide enterprises to set up prevention and control working groups, formulate emergency plans, do a good job of information collection, establish a reporting system, and do a good job of prevention and control of epidemics in daily operations.
(I) Strengthen employee management. During the epidemic prevention and control, employees’ daily information was collected and registered. Employees in good health are required to take protective measures before entering the business premises. If they have fever symptoms, they should seek medical treatment in a timely manner, and they should not be employed without permission. Strengthen training to improve employees’ awareness of risk prevention and ability to deal with outbreaks.
(2) Strengthen management of business sites. Equipped with a thermometer to measure the body temperature of consumers entering the business premises. Promote virus prevention and control, and prompt consumers to wear masks. Do a good job of disinfection, cleaning and ventilation of business sites, and increase the frequency of disinfection for facilities and equipment with frequent consumer contact. If the passenger flow is concentrated and the personnel is too dense, measures such as flow restriction and channeling should be adopted.
(3) Strengthen the management of facilities and equipment. Increase the frequency of disinfection and cleaning of air conditioning and fresh air systems, and cut off the channels through which the epidemic spreads. The garbage collection facilities shall be cleaned, cleared and disinfected in time. The commonly used epidemic prevention supplies such as masks and gloves should be collected and disposed of .
(4) Strengthen commodity management. Strictly prevent and control epidemics during the sales and distribution of commodities to prevent pollution. Actively organize the supply of goods to protect the daily consumption needs of the masses. It is strictly prohibited to drive up prices and hoard. Promote credit card payment and various mobile payment methods for settlement.
(5) Strengthen the management of large-scale promotional activities. On the basis of good epidemic prevention and control, no large-scale commodity promotion, exhibition, and sales activities can be organized without the permission of the superior.
- Strengthen supervision and inspection of epidemic prevention and control. Competent commercial departments should actively cooperate with the health director of the health department, for within the jurisdiction of life services business to carry out inspections, prevention and control work is not in place to order rectification, do not have the ability to prevent and control the epidemic there is a greater risk to non-opening, selling wild Animals must be resolutely banned. The good practices and experience of local commerce authorities in the prevention and control of the epidemic should be reported to the Ministry of Commerce (Circulation Development Department) in a timely manner.
Updated: The article was changed with clarification by Ant about what is covered (death) and adding the actual member payouts for 2019.