Mutual of Omaha officials had their eye on Bitcoin for about a year or so before they realized that the real value of the so-called “cryptocurrency” was actually in blockchain, its technological underpinning.
The technology that lets two people anonymously and securely transact in digital currency, industry experts realized, could also be used to safely store and validate information used by insurance companies and reinsurance companies, which are the businesses that insure insurers.
“A blockchain would be able to immediately know who was covered for how much and share that information back and forth between the insurer and any number of reinsurers,” said Brian Poppe, vice president of innovation strategy at Mutual.
Today, that process takes a lot of time and effort. Using blockchain, Poppe said, would mean “everyone has access to the same information nearly instantaneously.”
On May 5, Poppe and officials from industry titans like Union Pacific, accounting firm Ernst & Young and futures-exchange operator CME Group, will make the case for exploring how blockchain — essentially a shared, secure digital ledger technology — can be used in different industries.
The forum, called “New Kids on the Blockchain,” will be at Kaneko, 1111 Jones St. It’s a collaboration between the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Global Blockchain Business Council.
“The best way to think about this technology is that it’s like a global notary,” said Jamie Smith, president of the Global Blockchain Business Council. “People are using this mostly to move money at the moment, but it’s really a digital token for people to use and access databases around the world.”
Most commonly associated with so-called “cryptocurrency,” blockchain technology has far more uses beyond its underpinning of Bitcoin, that free-market dream of a digital currency independent of the trappings of central banks and their monetary policies.
Marco Floreani, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s manager of business development, said a particularly compelling local-use case would be to merge agricultural export data with blockchain technology. Such a marriage would let buyers and sellers of commodities know exactly where products originated, for example.
Tickets for the event, which lasts from noon to 3:30 p.m., are $50 and can be purchased at wedontcoast.com/new-kids-blockchain.