Hangzhou, 11 April 2019 – Alipay today announced that its Xiang Hu Bao online mutual aid platform aims to provide basic health plans to 300 million people in the next 2 years. Xiang Hu Bao has rapidly gained traction, attracting 50 million participants in less than six months since its launch in October 2018. This is faster than Yu’e Bao, Alipay’s spare cash management platform, which took more than six months to reach the 50 million user milestone after launching in June 2013.
Leveraging Alipay’s Blockchain technology to increase transparency and trust, Xiang Hu Bao, which literally means “mutual protection”, is an online mutual aid platform within the Alipay app that provides a basic health plan to protect participants against 100 critical illnesses. While Xiang Hu Bao is not a health insurance product, it complements other premium health insurance offerings in the market that have a wider range and depth of coverage. All participants share the risk of these critical illnesses and bear the related expenses as a collective.
Traditionally, fraud and a lack of transparency have made it difficult for mutual aid platforms to effectively benefit those in need. In particular, low-income groups could not afford the premiums and advance payments that are typically required with traditional commercial health insurance offerings. Figures from China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security show that as of 2018, more than 1.35 billion people in China were covered by basic medical insurance. However, a survey by the Insurance Association of China found that only 6.7% of respondents purchased commercial health insurance.
As of April 2019, approximately 47% of Xiang Hu Bao’s 50 million participants were migrant workers and 31% were from rural areas and county level regions.
Designed with inclusiveness in mind, Xiang Hu Bao does not require any upfront payments or admission fees and is available for users who are between 30 days and 59 years old and meet basic health and risk criteria. When a participant makes a claim, supporting evidence must be submitted via the Alipay app and go through a review and approval process. If the claim is approved, the participant will receive a one-time payout of up to RMB 300,000 (US$44,600), the cost of which is shared equally by all other participants. Disputed claims are escalated to an online review board consisting of qualified volunteer participants.
In addition to the public disclosure of all claims made, Alipay’s proprietary blockchain technology delivers an additional level of transparency and trust by ensuring the authenticity and notarization of evidence supporting claims on the Xiang Hu Bao platform. Participants have the option to exit the scheme at any time after shared expenses associated with all pending claims have been paid.