Switzerland’s AXA has begun taking Bitcoin as payment.

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Both private AXA consumers can now pay insurance rates in Bitcoin on every non-life insurance policy.

Europe’s second-largest insurance firm AXA has become Switzerland’s first all-line insurer to offer its customers the option to pay their bills with Bitcoin (BTC), facilitated through a collaboration with the established cryptocurrency broker Bitcoin Suisse.

With the exception of life insurance, which will not be allowed due to regulatory hurdles, Bitcoin payments will be accepted for nearly all AXA goods.

AXA cited the global economy’s accelerated digital transformation during the coronavirus pandemic as a key factor in its decision to integrate blockchain into its everyday operations. However, the insurer notes that it conducted market research in 2019 and discovered that roughly one-third of respondents aged 18 to 55 possessed or were interested in cryptocurrencies.

According to Claudia Bienentreu, AXA Switzerland’s head of open innovation, accepting Bitcoin payments is “AXA’s response to growing customer demand for alternative payment solutions, with new technologies playing an ever greater role.”

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In the consumer side, a straightforward online conversion with a reference number will be set up: the balance owed in Swiss francs will be converted into an equal sum in Bitcoin, and the indicated exchange rate will be valid for a set period of time. Customers will not face any exchange rate risk over this time period, and AXA will not charge any premium fees for customers who want to pay their bills in Bitcoin rather than fiat currency.

AXA would not hold any Bitcoin it gets on the balance sheets. Instead, the Bitcoin will be sent to the crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse. Notably, while AXA does not charge any commissions on Bitcoin transfers, Bitcoin Suisse does charge a 1.75 percent commision when calculating Bitcoin-franc exchange rates for AXA customers.

AXA’s previous involvement in blockchain-based technology includes its participation in the automotive dossier platform, which uses blockchain to monitor and document the life cycle of automobiles after 2017. The insurer further supports studies into the use of smart contracts in the insurance sector by sponsoring the University of Basel’s Blockchain Challenge.

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