Manulife Financial to begin testing blockchain tech

In yet another instance of blockchain technologies becoming more top-of-mind for specific industries, life insurance and financial services firm John Hancock this week announced a partnership with app developer ConsenSys and infrastructure developer BlockApps to establish a proof of concept (PoC) public ledger solution geared towards the on-boarding of wealth management customers.

John Hancock — a U.S. subsidiary of Toronto’s Manulife Financial Corp. —provides life insurance and financial services products. According to a joint release, the Boston-based firm’s Lab of Forward Thinking (LOFT) facility will work on an Ethereum blockchain PoC to build out applications leveraging the technologies.

The aim is to simplify the customer experience when they first begin doing business…in the wealth management business this involves not only satisfying customers, but regulatory and legal aspects as well, noted Ace Moghimi, Assistant Vice President and Head of Innovation, North America in a statement.

Moghimi told the firm will begin to test blockchain technologies for initiatives including a know-your-customer (KYC) trial and a project to streamline back-office operations.

Blockchain represents a key part of cryptocurrency bitcoin’s peer-to-peer payment system. Taking advantage of blockchain technologies are being eyed by firms such as John Hancock to streamline key industry processes  — including messaging protocols for information exchange — many of which are deemed to be outdated and cumbersome.

Earlier this month, Microsoft Corp continued its efforts to become a key player in blockchain technology by way of signing a deal with technology provider R3 to help develop distributed ledgers for firms within the financial industry including Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and Royal Bank of Canada.

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