Blockchain the next evolution of client interaction: Sun Life

Kevin Dougherty of Sun Life discusses new collaboration with SecureKey Technologies

Blockchain the next evolution of client interaction: Sun Life

While the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has brought blockchain into the spotlight, this technology has a multitude of different uses. Data transfer is a huge part of the financial services industry today, and that importance will only increase in the years ahead. The role of blockchain will therefore play a crucial role in ensuring information is passed on safely from source to source.

As an insurer that prides itself on its forward-thinking ethos, Sun Life Financial has committed to using blockchain to improve its operations, particularly when it comes to client interaction.

Kevin Dougherty is EVP of Innovation and Partnerships, a new role created to ensure the firm is exploring all avenues when it comes to advances in technology.

“Innovation is more important than ever and we believe we are in the middle of a revolution,” he says. “It is the convergence of digital and mobile, artificial intelligence, and these capabilities all coming together to create the opportunity to do things we never could have done in previous eras.”

This commitment saw Sun Life partner with SecureKey Technologies, a leading provider of identity and authentication solutions using blockchain technology. Announcing the collaboration recently, the firm revealed what benefits the tie-in would bring for Canadian consumers, including real-time identity verification and streamlining of the application process. In Dougherty’s view, the SecureKey partnership is a sign of things to come for the life and health insurance space.

“The technology makes it so much easier to do business with clients,” he says. “It simplifies their experience and really enables where things are going with mobile and digital experiences. Things happen now in seconds and minutes rather than days and weeks.”

Blockchain will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, but the technology available today is already a difference-maker for many firms. Enhancing the client experience is a major goal for all major insurance companies, which is why Sun Life is taking this step to embrace blockchain.  

“If you think about onboarding a client today, you have to stop to verify identity or collect information like driver licences or bank account information,” says Dougherty. “Imagine that someone could enable access to individual points of data like that, which would completely simplify the onboarding process.”

Another factor to consider is the added security that comes with not having information stored in one location, which would be susceptible to breaches. It’s a major concern for firms today as the recent Equifax case emphasized.

“Clients can control data and who has access to it and when,” he says. “The security of your data is spread across the blockchain. This technology is built for security with the way that data is encrypted and stored separately across members of the blockchain. There is a lot of friction in trying to move money or information around, and that friction is time for people.”
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