The latest industry to adopt blockchain for its operations is the pension planning industry. The retirement services industry is estimated to have a total value of pension assets of $19.1 trillion in the United States. Despite its massive size, however, the industry still operates in data silos and with Excel sheets. Blockchain could streamline operations and make it easier for pension account planners and holders to manage payouts.
A paper by consulting firm Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH) earlier this year outlined possible use cases for blockchain. Among them are standard uses, such as record management and planning documents with blockchain, as well as unconventional implementations of the technology, such as tracking expenditures for pension account holders who have taken out loans or developing custom pension coins (similar to cryptocurrency bitcoin) for desired behavior from participants. (See also: Banks Claim They Are Building Blockchains. They're Not.)
While it is still early days, blockchain technology has caught the attention of several industry leaders in the space. In an interview with Bloomberg BNA, Roshina Nandra, vice president of Prudential Retirement Innovation Lab, said the company began exploring blockchain use cases three years ago. According to her, blockchain is a "more secure record-keeping system" than existing solutions in the industry. Fidelity Investments, another giant within the retirement services industry, is exploring blockchain use in its technology innovation unit Fidelity Labs.
Raphael Vantroost, who leads Advisory and Partnerships at Auctus, a startup aimed at the pension planning industry, compared pension plans to smart contracts within blockchain. The latter is a digital contract with pre-configured rules. Pension plans can be configured as a smart contract with payments if certain criteria defined in the original plan are met. Nandra from Prudential said that life insurance companies could also automatically make payouts upon a person's death if they are able to receive a digital status alert. (See also: Blockchain Is Helping Change Government Services.)
To be sure, blockchain is already being used for retirement planning by some millennials. The Bitcoin IRA has crafted bitcoin funds for interested millennials. Earlier this year, it launched the first retirement fund based on digital currency Ethereum. (See also: This Is the First Bitcoin IRA Approved by the IRS.)