Insurance provider AXA Switzerland announced that its Switzerland customers will now be able to pay their bills in Bitcoin (BTC).

The insurer claims to be the first in Switzerland to enable customers to pay their premiums in Bitcoin. The option to pay in Bitcoin will be introduced from the start of April for all its non-life products.

Meeting demand

The decision to launch Bitcoin as a payment option follows market research conducted in 2019. AXA asked  people aged 18 to 55 for their thoughts on cryptocurrencies. Even then, around a third of respondents said that they already owned some or were interested in them.  With the coronavirus pandemic having accelerated the digital transformation further over the past year, the insurer decided to meet its customer’s demand. Therefore it introduced Bitcoin payments through payment provider Inapay.

“This is AXA’s response to growing demand from its customers for alternative payment solutions, with new technologies playing an ever greater role,” Claudia Bienentreu, head of open innovation at AXA Switzerland, said in a statement accompanying the release.

When they want to make a payment, AXA customers can go to invoice.inapay.ch/axa. Here they can enter the reference number of their bill, followed with the amount. The amount owed in Swiss francs (CHF) is then converted into the relevant amount in BTC. A a progress bar will display how long the BTC/CHF exchange rate is valid. The total price updates each time the bar expires.

AXA further noted that “further payment options besides Bitcoin” are in consideration for future release.

AXA does not charge any transaction fees itself and there are some additional costs involved.  The Bitcoin exchange rate provided by the broker includes a commission of 1.75%. This is to be able to cover blockchain transaction, currency exchange, and other fees.

Bitcoin on the balance sheet

Recently a lot of companies have reported to put Bitcoin on their balance sheets after receiving payments in Bitcoin. However, AXA makes clear that it will not do so. The insurer partners with crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse. The brokerage firm will convert payments into Swiss francs. AXA will therefore not be holding any Bitcoin on its balance sheet as a result.

So far, the highest-profile company to accept Bitcoin as payment is Tesla. Tesla introduced an option to use Bitcoin for payment of its products and services. And unlike AXA, the electric vehicle manufacturer has no intentions of converting the cryptocurrency to fiat.

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